LOS ANGELES – After the worst Memorial Day weekend performance in 18 years, the summer box office needed a hero – or more specifically, a heroine. Thankfully, Warner Bros.’ highly anticipated “Wonder Woman” came to the rescue, like only a wondrous woman can.
The DC Comics film adaptation starring Gal Gadot in the title role grossed an estimated $100.5 million in the U.S. and Canada in its debut weekend, well above analyst projections of $80 million to $90 million, as well as the studio’s more modest expectations of $65 million to $70 million. Internationally, the picture pulled in $122.5 million.
With those numbers, “Wonder Woman” can now claim the official title as the first female-fronted superhero blockbuster.
“Here, you have a property that has really resonated with audiences all around the world,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros.’ distribution chief. “There is something special about Gal Gadot, but something timely about Wonder Woman. She is a character that just has been embraced worldwide.”
Wonder Woman, aka Diana, princess of the Amazons, has spent 75 years saving the world in DC comic books and TV shows. She fought alongside Batman and Superman with her sword and Lasso of Truth last year in the lackluster “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Until now, her male counterparts have hogged most of the big-screen glory.
Adding to the celebration was the fact that the $150 million film was directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins. Her last film, “Monster,” for which star Charlize Theron won an Oscar, was made more than a decade ago. “Wonder Woman” now holds the title for the best domestic opening by a female director, replacing “Fifty Shades of Grey’s” Sam Taylor-Johnson ($85.1 million).
“This character on its own in any time would have resonated, but (Jenkins’) view of what this story is, her vision, this tone, just really connected,” Goldstein said. “She did a spectacular job tonally.”
Compared with other superhero flicks, “Wonder Woman’s” $100.5 million outranks the domestic openings of “Iron Man” ($98.6 million), “Doctor Strange” ($85 million) and “Thor” ($65.7 million).
While most eyes were on “Wonder Woman” this weekend, the other major release, 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks Animation’s “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie,” was also noteworthy. The film landed in second place, pulling in an estimated $23.5 million in the U.S. and Canada, beating analysts’ modest projections of $20 million.
The PG-13 rated “Captain Underpants” brings the anarchic adventure and unbridled potty humor of author Dav Pilkey’s beloved children’s book series – which for 20 years has sent countless elementary-school-age kids into fits of giggles and a few easily offended adults into fits of pique – to movie screens for the first time. The formidable voice cast includes Kevin Hart, Thomas Middleditch, Ed Helms and Nick Kroll.
Rounding out the rest of the top five at the box office were holdovers.
Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” landed in third in its second week with $21.6 million, a 66 percent drop from its opening week. The adventure grossed $114.6 million domestically to date. The film’s global tally, however, is much more impressive, at $501.2 million, making it the sixth-best performing release of the year thus far.
Disney’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” sequel landed in fourth place in its fifth week with $9.7 million. It’s pulled $355.4 million domestically since its release for a global gross to date of $816.6 million.
Landing in the fifth spot in its second week was Paramount’s “Baywatch” reboot with $8.5 million, a 54 percent drop week to week. The film, which was panned by critics, has grossed $41.7 million domestically.
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