Wonder Woman is expected to draw a massive audience in star Gal Gadot’s home country of Israel when the film opens this weekend. While Gadot appeared in four films in the Fast and Furious franchise, there’s no question that her stunning turn opposite Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice catapulted the actress’ career to a whole new level. And thanks to her scene-stealing performance as the Amazon warrior princess in the 2016 DCEU film, expectations for the Wonder Woman solo movie are huge both U.S. and abroad.
Without question, the country most excited for the film is Gadot’s birthplace of Israel. Born in Rosh Ha’ayin in 1985, Gadot led an exciting life in Israel long before she relocated to Hollywood for her acting career, having served in the Israeli military for two years, and winning the crown of Miss Israel in 2004.
According to THR, Israeli publications say the excitement for Gadot’s Wonder Woman movie is at a fever pitch. The film, which opened in the country in select markets on Wednesday, is expected to pull in $1.8 million this weekend, far out-distancing Batman v Superman’s take of $1.1 million in its opening weekend last year. The Wonder Woman box office is clearly being driven by Gadot’s unprecedented popularity, Israel Hayom newspaper columnist Adi Rubinstein writes:
“There is no one Israeli that is non-supportive. Gadot is the leading Israeli product on TV all over the world right now – no format, idea or Israeli persona can successfully do what Gadot has been doing this past month.”
Israeli entertainment and celebrity news show host Guy Pines of Erev Tov With Guy Pines tells THR that Gadot’s popularity stems from the fact that she is so relatable:
“Gal has been a household name in Israel for years, keeping her cool and down-to-earth persona, unlike many others, even when she became such a huge star. Knowing how many others dream and work so hard to get there, you just can’t not love her and appreciate her amazing achievement. And pleaaassse try to pronounce her name right. Ga-dott!”
By all indications, Israeli filmgoers are going to love Gadot even more after they see Wonder Woman. In the U.S., the film has drawn several positive reviews from critics and the original live-action Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter, called it a “wonderful movie” at the film’s recent red carpet premiere. Wonder Woman has also been certified fresh by movie critic aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, and if the film’s astounding 94 percent rating holds steady, it will match the benchmark set by the Warner Bros./DC blockbuster The Dark Knight and Marvel’s The Avengers as the highest-rated superhero movie in the site’s history.
Unfortunately, Wonder Woman has experienced one drawback during its run up to its worldwide release this weekend, with an announcement from a Lebanese theater chain Wednesday that the film was banned in Lebanon specifically because of Gadot’s Jewish heritage and service in the Israeli army – a particular sticking point since Lebanon is at war with Israel. And while the banning of the film in Lebanon will take away a tiny percentage of the film’s worldwide take, there’s no taking away the pride of Israelis in their new international superstar. According to Israeli online tracker Taykey, Gadot is “unrivaled as the most loved Israeli in the world” – goodwill that will likely carry over to her Justice League film in November.