Between the pressures of being a superhero movie release in the midst of a superhero movie Renaissance, the latest volley over the net in the Marvel vs. DC fan wars, and the first female superhero movie in over a decade, Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman was under a considerable amount of pressure when it made its theatrical debut last week. The movie has received almost entirely positive reviews, but many fans may be wondering how its box office performance is holding up compared to other recent superhero adventures. While it’s true that Wonder Woman had the smallest opening weekend out of the four DC Extended Universe movies released so far, Diana Prince’s (Gal Gadot) solo debut has a chance to end up outgrossing the original DCEU movie – Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel.
First all, a quick breakdown of the numbers. The final count for Wonder Woman‘s opening weekend ticket sales ended out ahead of earlier estimates, with a total domestic take of $103.1 million. But while that may be the smallest DCEU opening weekend so far, Wonder Woman also had the smallest budget of all the DCEU movies, and (unlike Suicide Squad) was reportedly quite a thrifty production with no deleted scenes and only one scene requiring reshoots. The number that really bodes well for Wonder Woman, however, is its opening weekend multiplier – which is the highest of any DCEU movie so far at 2.7x.
The multiplier, for those who may be unfamiliar with this lesser-known box office stat, is used to measure the “legginess” of a movie – how heavily its box office is weighted towards its first initial debut, and how quickly audience numbers drop off. A movie’s overall multiplier is the total box office divided by the opening weekend box office; so, for example, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice‘s huge debut and steep drop-off led to a dismal multiplier of 1.95. This pattern was foreshadowed by Batman v Superman‘s opening weekend, which saw the biggest Friday-to-Sunday box office drop of any superhero movie.
As noted by Forbes, if Wonder Woman were to follow the same pattern as Batman V Superman, it would end up with a worldwide total of around $465 million. However, between the powerful opening weekend multiplier and the high praise from critics (review scores being a strong predictor of overall box office), Wonder Woman seems set for a relatively small drop in its upcoming second weekend – especially given that its biggest competition, The Mummy, is expected to underperform and will probably allow Wonder Woman to hold on to the #1 spot for a second weekend.
Forbes also notes that the best-case scenario for Wonder Woman is a total worldwide gross somewhere between $640 and $680 million – which means that if it ends up at the higher end of that prediction, it will have outgrossed Man of Steel‘s $668 million worldwide take (Man of Steel had a $116 million opening weekend, and a 2.5x overall multiplier). Of course, when Man of Steel‘s box office is adjusted for inflation, Wonder Woman would need to top $700 million worldwide in order to outpace the debut of Henry Cavill’s Clark Kent – a pretty tall order, good reviews notwithstanding. However, barring a sudden disastrous downturn, it is all but guaranteed to snag a higher worldwide gross than Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns, even after adjusting for inflation.
Given the aforementioned level of scrutiny that Wonder Woman is under, there has been some debate about just how strong its box office performance has actually been. If Wonder Woman’s first solo feature film succeeds in outgrossing the two most recent Superman solo movies, we can probably consider that debate settled.