LOS ANGELES • Wonder Woman 1984 pulled in US$36.1 million (S$48 million) at worldwide cinemas over the Christmas holiday weekend and boosted streaming viewership on HBO Max, Warner Bros said on Sunday.
It also confirmed plans for a third film in the superhero franchise.
An estimated US$16.7 million of the box-office total came from American and Canadian theatres, the AT&T-owned studio said on Sunday.
That ranked as the highest opening in North America since the coronavirus pandemic shuttered cinemas in March, though the numbers were a fraction of usual receipts for a big-budget action flick.
The Wonder Woman film in 2017 opened with US$103.2 million in North America.
With two-thirds of North American theatres closed, Warner Bros opted for an unusual arrangement, making Wonder Woman 1984 available at the same time to American customers of AT&T's HBO Max streaming service.
Millions watched the film on HBO Max, the company said in a statement, but it did not specify how long they tuned in. Total viewing hours on the platform tripled last Friday compared with a typical day in the previous month, the statement said.
The movie "exceeded our expectations across all of our key viewing and subscriber metrics in its first 24 hours on the service", said Mr Andy Forsell, executive vice-president and general manager of WarnerMedia Direct-to-Consumer.
Warner Bros said it would accelerate development of a third Wonder Woman movie also written and directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot as the lasso-wielding warrior. The studio did not announce a release date.
Mr Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at research firm Comscore, said Wonder Woman 1984 performed well in theatres given "an extremely challenging marketplace".
"Considering the availability of this blockbuster film at home, the numbers for the theatrical debut of Wonder Woman 1984 should be encouraging to theatrical exhibition," he said.
Wonder Woman 1984 faced competition from critically praised Pixar animated movie Soul, which Walt Disney delivered to the Disney+ streaming service and some cinemas overseas.
The story of a music teacher seeking his life's purpose took in US$7.6 million in cinemas, Disney said. It did not disclose how many people watched Soul via streaming.
Warner Bros has announced the same hybrid release strategy for its 17 theatrical movies next year, sparking a backlash from some top Hollywood directors and cinema operators, who hope for a rebound after Covid-19 vaccinations increase.
Through Sunday, this year's North American box-office receipts totalled US$2.3 billion, down 80 per cent from a year earlier, according to Comscore.