Can Wonder Woman save the day for Warner Brothers?

Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman, which opens on May 31 in Singapore.
Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman, which opens on May 31 in Singapore.PHOTO: CLAY ENOS, WARNER BROS PICTURES

NEW YORK • As Warner Brothers' King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword bombs, it now falls to Wonder Woman to help save the day for the studio.

The Amazon's first solo outing for DC's cinematic universe already bears a heavy weight.

She stands as the gleaming hope to turn around the critical drubbings and relative commercial underperformance of WB/DC's recent live-action superheroes, including Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad.

In the wake of this past weekend, though, Warner especially needs her to succeed on a large scale.

The critically drubbed King Arthur grossed just US$14.7 million (S$20.5 million) in North America and US$29.1 million overseas, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

That paltry take is disastrous for the studio, as the movie comes with a reported cost of US$300 million, counting global marketing.

Those early returns point to a flop of potential going-down-in-Hollywood-lore proportions - worse than another recent sword-and- sandals cautionary tale, last year's Ben-Hur, which grossed US$94 million worldwide on a reported US$100-million production budget.

This stumble could turn up the heat on the marketing of Warner's next big fantasy action-adventure, Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman, which opens on June 2. It opens on May 31 in Singapore.

Starring Gal Gadot, Robin Wright and Chris Pine, it has a running time of two hours and 21 minutes - right in the company of recent superhero team-up films, and just a few minutes longer than Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, which repeated as domestic boxoffice champion over the weekend in North America.

Guardians stands as the second- biggest North American film of the year - on takings of US$246.2 million so far.

The Wonder Woman trailers have trickled out only new visual information, but the movie already has many factors in its favour.

Among them, Gadot's Diana Prince was perhaps the highlight of last year's Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, landing with enough presence to warrant her own signature electric riff of a musical cue.

In costume, she was on screen just enough to whet the filmgoer's appetite.

More important, though, pop culture seems more than ready for a standout solo-superheroine film - a big-screen warrior from the comic books to rival the reception of the first Hunger Games in 2012.

Mostly, however, WB/DC has an iconic character with a complex eight-decade history.

If she cannot be properly promoted, not even Merlin could save Warner's recent unheroic run in marketing.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2017, with the headline 'Can Wonder Woman save the day for Warner Brothers?'. Subscribe