Word of mouth is a wondrous thing.
Look no further than Warner Bros. and DC's Wonder Woman. The summer blockbuster boasts the best hold of any superhero film in more than 15 years at the North American box office, where even the most successful summer tentpoles can catch a case of sunstroke and retreat to the shade rather quickly amid so much competition. Wonder Woman is the unusual exception.
Directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman is still going strong as it heads into its seventh week. The movie, grossing $371.3 million through Tuesday, is now assured of topping out at $390 million or more domestically, becoming the No. 8 comic book adaptation of all time, not accounting for inflation. And it will soon pass up Disney and Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($385.8 million) in North America to become the top summer earner.
That also means Wonder Woman will earn roughly 3.8 times the $103.3 million it collected when it launched over the June 2-4 weekend — the best multiple for the genre in decades. Currently, the film's multiple is 3.6, slightly ahead of the first Spider-Man in 2002. The first Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) was also a word-of-mouth sensation, sporting a 3.5 multiple, while Nolan's sequel, The Dark Knight (2008), powered to a 3.4 multiple.
Generally speaking, a multiple in the vicinity of 2.5 to 3 is considered a win for a superhero film, particularly if the opening is especially mighty, i.e., north of $120 million.
"It feels like Wonder Woman will play all the way through August," says Warners' Jeff Goldstein, president of domestic distribution. "Right now, the movie is still in about 3,000 locations. Usually, the theater count would be a fraction of that at this point."
The critically acclaimed film is also destined to become the studio's third-biggest movie domestically after The Dark Knight ($534.9 million) and The Dark Knight Rises ($448.1 million), again not accounting for inflation. It is about to pass up the final Harry Potter film ($381 million) after eclipsing American Sniper ($350.1 million) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ($330.4 million).
Globally, Wonder Woman has already become the top-grossing film of all time from a female helmer with solo directing duties.
Overseas, Wonder Woman has been slower to catch on, earning roughly $380 million to date for a global total of around $750 million. Many times, the foreign box office accounts for 70 percent of a tentpole's total gross; Wonder Woman's split is currently 49 percent domestic and 51 percent international.
Earlier this week, Ryan Reynolds and the team behind 20th Century Fox's superhero sensation Deadpool generously tweeted a congratulatory note after Wonder Woman passed up Deadpool, which posted a domestic total of $363.1 million in early 2016. Reynolds' is among many who are happy to sing Wonder Woman's praises.
"When critics and audiences are on the same page, you can pretty much bet the box office will be supercharged for the long haul," says box-office analyst Jeff Bock. "Wonder Woman is also a vehicle of female empowerment, something we don't regularly see in the superhero genre and that has made it a very unique property this summer."