Why ‘Wonder Woman’ Is Catching on More Slowly Overseas

Why ‘Wonder Woman’ Is Catching on More Slowly Overseas

Over the June 23-25 weekend, box-office blockbuster Wonder Woman grossed a rousing $25 million in North America, the second-best showing in history for a superhero film in its fourth outing behind Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.

Wonder Woman is a summer water-cooler sensation in the U.S. In addition to earning glowing reviews, the Warner Bros. and DC movie — featuring a female superhero and directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins — has tapped into the cultural zeitgeist, coming at a time when the lack of female representation behind and in front of the camera is making major headlines.

Already, Wonder Woman has become the top-grossing live-action movie directed by a female director with north of $657 million in global ticket sales through June 27.

Revenue in the U.S. and Canada accounts for $322 million, or 49 percent of the bottom line, compared with roughly $336 million to date internationally, or 51 percent of total revenue (hardly a poor showing). Still, in many cases a Hollywood tentpole collects 60 to 65 percent of its total take from the international box office.

So why is Wonder Woman following a different course?

“Historically, an origin superhero film does big business domestically,” says Warner Bros. distribution chief Jeff Goldstein.

Case in point: rival Disney and Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), likewise featuring a superhero who has strong American roots but isn’t a well-known comic book hero overseas, grossed $176.7 million domestically (48 percent) and $193.9 million internationally (52 percent). Sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) made huge gains overseas, earning $714.3 million internationally (64 percent) compared with $259.8 million domestically (36 percent). Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy also made strides offshore with each successive film.

Deadpool is another example, with 46 percent of its total earnings ($783.1 million) coming from North America, and 54 percent from overseas. (The sequel has just begun production).

Also, Wonder Woman has vastly overperformed in the U.S., throwing off the curve, according to numerous analysts. There’s also the matter of Wonder Woman featuring a female superhero.

One country where Wonder Woman has lagged well behind other superhero…