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‘Wonder Woman’ Breaks The Mold – And Records – In First Weekend

We all knew that a day would come that Warner Brothers would finally usher in an installment of the DC Comics Cinematic Universe that wouldn’t be derided by the masses. I suspect, however, none of the executives in Hollywood expected a female-driven super hero tale to be that movie.

Defying the odds and levied by positive word of mouth, Wonder Woman broke records over the weekend without having a single worry. The film exceeded expectations and astounded with $100.5 million. Keep in mind figures may change once the final tallies come in Monday morning. This is just Patty Jenkins’ second film in her career, the first being the nerving 2003 drama Monster. The tentpole film goes down in history as the top domestic opening of all time by a female director. Yes, this is 2017 and film studios still have trouble allowing women to direct major studio movies. That’s a whole other story however, and one best suited for an editorial as to why female auteurs should be allowed. I digress. You know that the major studios are now backed into a corner with this runaway success and need to be more open to what the future holds.

Wonder Woman is the first female-led super hero film since the busts of both Catwoman and Elektra roughly thirteen years ago. The film, in production developmental hell since 1996 while the right script came along, reeled in audiences that skewered towards women. A staggering 52% of women went to the theaters this weekend – most comic book movies usually have audiences made of 60% male. The DC Comics heroine also is the 16th film in the comic book genre to cross $100 million in its first weekend. Sure, the $100.5 million haul is less than both Batman Vs. Superman and Suicide Squad. The difference maker? Wonder Woman has the critics on its side, certified fresh over at Rotten Tomatoes from over a hundred critics. Production budget was only $149 million too and the Gal Gadot-lead film has already earned $223 million worldwide. Finally, DC has a hit that pleases both critics and fans alike.

You hear that, Warner Brothers? There’s no harm in allowing someone with a different vision to lead a DC film. Given that Joss Whedon has now taken over the rest of production for Justice League in the absence of Zack Snyder, we look back at 2017 as the year that DC Comics finally started getting their cinematic universe under control. (Just don’t bring up the long-gestating Flash standalone movie. That one sure does look doomed.)

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales didn’t slide just one place. In fact, the Johnny Depp tale dropped down to third. (I didn’t even expect Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie to make any waves, yet the kids flick earned a healthy $23.5 million this weekend.) Pirates lost a 65.7% of its audience from last weekend to walk away with $21.6 million. That percentage is just about average for most sequels these days. Though one thing for sure, this Depp movie isn’t a tank like most of his more recent movies. Stateside the fifth installment in Disney’s franchise has amassed $114 million, with another $386 million buoying the film’s presence overseas. At this pace Pirates may not cross the $1 billion landmark but will still keep Disney suits smiling in their seats. I got a hunch we’ll get a sixth – and I pray final – movie to close out the saga of Captain Jack Sparrow.

Also still kicking this weekend was James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. The film added another $9.7 million domestically to increase the worldwide haul to $816 million. In celebration of passing the $800 million milestone a few days ago Gunn took to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to show fans the inspiration behind Baby Groot’s fancy footwork during the title sequence. By God, this is amazing to watch – and I do hope there’s a longer take waiting to pop up on the Blu Ray this fall.

Rounding out the top five was Baywatch. The good news for Paramount is that the Dwayne Johnson-starring comedy only lost 54.1% of its audience from last weekend, so crowds are finding their way to see this – just not as fast as the studio hoped. In just over a week the film has at least pulled in $67 million and should make at least $100 million by the time the director’s commentary is recorded. Still, not even the star power of Dwayne Johnson could save this movie from drowning. I suppose the next question should be if the forthcoming Jumanji sequel this Christmas holds the same dark cloud over its release.

Outside of the top five films this weekend, though, there is a whole other dire dialogue to be had. It’s almost like the quintessential Charles Dickens novel A Tale Of Two Cities. On one side you have a handful of films that have steady footing and seem to be attracting waves of audiences looking to unhinge. But you cross the street and you have a very dour visage of gloom.

'Wonder Woman' Breaks The Mold - And Records - In First Weekend
Yes Captain, I know – this summer movie season has sure been a bust thus far.

Alien: Covenant dovetailed yet again. In its third weekend in theaters the Ridley Scott film sank another 62.3% to sixth place with just $4 million. The sequel to the prequel has luckily found solid ground overseas, where the film has at least pulled in $106 million. Still, Fox executives cannot be happy that the latest in the Alien franchise has scared up just $173 million worldwide. While the production costs have at least been recouped, this will need a walker to find balance to keep finding audiences. (My guess? It’ll fizzle within the next three weeks or so.) The double-whammy for Fox comes from Amy Schumer’s Snatched, reeling in just $1.3 million over the weekend. The film too has covered production costs but that’s just about it as well. Her latest has pulled in a sparse $54 million to date. In comparison, Trainwreck finished with a robust $140 million against a $35 million budget. Overall, Fox is having a miserable time in theaters this summer. I’m betting they wish that Kingsmen: The Golden Circle had kept its June release date instead of being pushed back to early fall.

Then again – nah, I would rather Matthew Vaughn’s sequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service find a crowd and do phenomenally well.

The only other real notable for the weekend box office – and, no, finally all quiet on the Fate of the Furious front – is the abysmal King Arthur and his quest to become the king he would become. Alas, we’ll never know the full story. This franchise is surely burnt toast tossed in a garbage receptacle.  Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword tumbled another 64.5% to a laughable $1.1 million. I say laughable because Guy Ritchie is more capable director than what has been ushered to the screen and deserves far better. Domestically the Charlie-Hunnam adventure has just $37 million in receipts. Overseas the film has at least managed to pull in an additional $92 million. Warner Brothers has yet to formally announce the write-off amount needed to balance the books after this box office bomb but, if one lesson learned, it may be that Guy Ritchie may step back from tentpole films and go back to focusing on smaller-scale material for a spell. We can only hope anyway.

Next weekend sees Tom Cruise running from Russian agents, err, from aliens, err, sorry. Tom Cruise runs frantically towards the camera in all of his movies these days. Let me try that again. This weekend will see Tom Cruise kick off Universal’s Dark Universe in The Mummy, the remake you never wanted because the Brendan Fraser trilogy is fun passable entertainment as the films stand. Nevertheless, knowing Cruise’s ability to sell tickets, the redo should perform just fine. Also due for release is It Comes At Night, a horror flick about a man protecting his wife and children from menacing inhuman forces right outside their cabin doors. Also in limited release is Megan Leavey, based on the real life story of a Marine and the dog she befriends in Iraq in 2005 and 2006. All in all, I expect the box office to be diminutive once again. Old news, yep,  but the pattern isn’t going to end anytime soon. Until next week stay nerdy Fan Fest readers and have yourself a very restful week!

1.) Wonder Woman – $100.5 million

2.) Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie – $23.5 million

3.) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – $21.6 million

4.) Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 – $9.7 million

5.) Baywatch – $8.5 million

6.) Alien: Covenant – $4 million

7.) Everything, Everything – $3.3 million

8.) Snatched – $1.3 million

9.) Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul – $1.2 million

10.) King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – $1.1 million

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