DC Comics and Warner Bros. breathed a huge sigh of relief this past weekend when ‘Wonder Woman’ set a new record for a female-directed feature with a $100 million opening ($89 million projected), and received great reviews from critics (93% on Rotten Tomatoes; 76 on Metacritic). It is a big confidence booster for the DC comic book universe as their most recent releases (‘Suicide Squad’ and ‘Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice’) have performed well at the box-office, but have been bashed by critics. ‘Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice’ received a 27% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 44 on Metacritic, while ‘Suicide Squad’ received a 25% and 40 on those respective sites. If you’re going to be in the comic book adaptation competition with Marvel, you better have some well-received films to be relevant.
Marvel has been dominating the comic book adaptation film universe for a while now, and it seems they have figured out a recipe that adds critical acclaim to their box-office juggernauts. DC, however, has been unable to replicate to the magnitude of Marvel on either front. Marvel owns the top 4 spots for comic book adaptation weekend openings all-time, all of which received Tomatometer scores of 75% or above, as well as 62 or above on Metacritic.
As a comic book adaptation, the core fans are going to see the film no matter what. If you really want to break box-office records you have to appeal to a larger audience and get more than just the core fans to see the film. How do you do that? Well, besides mass-marketing, you have to make a good film that critics will rate highly. How many of your friends decide to go see a certain film because they heard it was good? How many of you friends decide to pass on seeing a film because they heard it was wasn’t good? Review-aggregating sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic have a big say in how a film performs its opening weekend and beyond because people don’t want to waste their hard-earned money on a bad film that they probably won’t enjoy.
With the $100 million opening for ‘Wonder Woman’ to go along with critical acclaim, it seems DC has gotten back on track. It is the fourth film in the DC extended universe, and the only one to be “Certified Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes. We’ll see if they can keeps things going when ‘Justice League’ is released in November.