Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.’s DC Comics blockbuster Wonder Woman is riding a wave of critical acclaim and audience fanfare to a summer movie season-saving $100 million domestic opening weekend haul — a historic feat for a female-directed feature film.
After several weeks of slumping ticket sales for major film franchises, including Alien: Covenant and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, the Gal Gadot-starring superheroine film has become an international sensation, thanks, in large part, to rave critical reviews, a 94 percent Certified Fresh Rotten Tomatoes score, and an A CinemaScore.
Wonder Woman highlights Diana Prince (Gadot), the Amazon princess who leaves her home of Themyscira when American pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash-lands on the island and enlists her to fight for truth and justice in a global world war.
Patty Jenkins (Monster, the Killing) helmed the high-flying latest installment in the expanded DC Cinematic Universe, which comes on the heels of 2016’s blockbusters Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad.
Jenkins, however, says she was not consumed by the idea of directing a woman.
“I don’t think any movie has to have any specific kind of person,” she told the New York Times. “I wasn’t directing a woman, I was just directing a hero, and that freed me up to go broader with her personality than someone might be able to do if they were afraid to make her vulnerable and loving and warm, and not always right, which is absolutely imperative to a leading character.”
But the road to box office success for the fantasy film was rife with obstacles, both at home and abroad.
The studio’s first choice to direct, Michelle MacLaren, left the project, with Warner Bros. citing “creative differences.”
Then, just days before its world premiere, the film was banned in Lebanon:
— Grand Cinemas Lebanon (@GCLebanon) May 31, 2017
The ban was due to an intense boycott effort led by Lebanese group Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel-Lebanon, which objected to the casting of Gadot — a former Miss Israel who served as a soldier in the Israeli Defense Force. The film was set to play in 15 locations in Lebanon. The ban was also surprising given Gadot’s appearance in other blockbuster films, including the Fast and Furious films and Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
But the surge of swooning reviews, positive social media messaging, and word of mouth all contributed to Wonder Woman’s big June 2 premiere.
On Friday, Twitter was flooded with photos of young girls dressed up as the Amazon heroine:
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) June 1, 2017
— N Irving-Phillips (@NIrvingPhillips) June 1, 2017
— Jennifer Joseph Hernandez (@jenniferxjoseph) June 3, 2017
— Carl Morries 🐝🌻 (@Cam_1971b) June 2, 2017
Wonder Woman is directed by Patty Jenkins and also stars Chris Pine, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Ewen Bremner, Lucy Davis, and Doutzen Kroes.
Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter @jeromeehudson.