Despite the heavy fan-anticipation and Warner Bros.’ own confidence in the film, the premiere of Wonder Woman 1984 has failed to meet expectations in a key international market.
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Per The Hollywood Reporter, the picture “is off to a sluggish start” in China, the world’s second largest film market, where it lags behind the Chinese-produced action hit, The Rescue.
According to estimates from Asian cinema consultation firm Artisan Gateway, WW84 grossed a mid-Friday-evening total of $4.6 million, landing solidly in second place behind The Rescue’s $8.9 million.
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The first Wonder Woman, for comparison, did reasonably well in China, grossing over $38 million in its opening weekend and $90.5 million total by the time it left theaters.
Chinese moviegoers look to be avoiding WW84 altogether, as of Sunday, the sequel made just $18.8 million in China according to Variety. As such, the film is currently on track to make an estimated $45 million, less than half of what its predecessor made.
“Gal Gadot’s Amazon warrior will need a surprise lift from somewhere — such as generous screen share from Imax China (it currently has 90 percent of the country’s 700-plus giant screens this weekend), or, perhaps, strong turnout from families on Saturday and Sunday — to emerge from the weekend in stride,” reports THR.
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Unfortunately for WW84, reviews from Chinese critics haven’t been the most favorable. Movie ticketing website Maoyan gave WW84 a score of 8/10, which, while seemingly a high score, is “on the bottom end for U.S. superhero films.” Social media site Douban, whose scores “always skew lower than the mainstream ticketing apps”, gave the film a 7.1, the exact same score the first film received.
Reviews here in the States aren’t great either. Critics have described the film as “a victim of the very excess and shortcuts it seeks to critique” and lamented how “a Wonder Woman story in 2020 could be uplifting and inspiring, [but] this film is neither“. Two of the most prominent points of criticism have been Maxwell Lord’s role as a caricature of President Donald Trump and the method with which Steve Trevor is brought back to life.
As of writing, flick stands at a healthy 84% on Rotten Tomatoes, though this score is notably lower than the 93% held by the first film.
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While WW84 has thus far performed far below expectations, Variety notes that this may have been of a result of how “the Chinese box office saw its lowest pre-Christmas weekend since 2014, despite the country’s low levels of coronavirus threat.”
Furthermore, its second place finish behind The Rescue is unsurprising, given that the popular action film is a state-funded production about Chinese military might and bravery and has supposedly benefited from good word of mouth.
Wonder Woman 1984 is currently slated to release in theaters and on HBO Max on Christmas Day, a fitting date considering that the film may need a Christmas miracle in order to break even.
What do you make of WW84’s early performance in China? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below!