Wonder Woman 1984: 'Surprisingly robust' US debut for film sequel

The sequel to 2017's superhero hit Wonder Woman has opened in US cinemas, generating "surprisingly robust" ticket sales, according to one industry paper.

Variety said Wonder Woman 1984's $16.7m (£12.3m) debut was "the biggest opening weekend haul in the coronavirus era".

The Warner Bros film was made available on the HBO Max streaming service on the same day it opened in more than 2,000 cinemas in the US and Canada.

Its distributor said HBO Max's viewing hours had tripled as a consequence.

According to Warner Media, nearly half of the platform's retail subscribers viewed Wonder Woman 1984 when it became available on Christmas Day.

It said HBO Max's total viewing hours on 25 December were more than three times that of a typical day in the previous month.

The original Wonder Woman made more than $100m at the US and Canada box office when it opened in more than 4,000 cinemas in June 2017.

Its sequel's opening weekend takings were a fraction of that record-breaking amount, yet still exceeded box office projections, according to its distributor.

Its Christmas weekend takings were comparable to the opening weekend haul of Tenet, the only other major studio release to reach cinemas since March.

Christopher Nolan's film made $20.2m when it opened over the long Labor Day weekend in the US and Canada in September after three days of previews.

Overall Wonder Woman 1984 made $36.1m over the Christmas weekend worldwide, taking its total global takings to $85m.

Directed by Patty Jenkins, the film sees Israeli actress Gal Gadot reprise her role as the DC Comics superhero against a 1980s backdrop.

In a statement on Sunday, Warner Media said it had decided to "fast-track development" on a third instalment in the fantasy franchise.

Warner Bros chairman Toby Emmerich said Jenkins and Gadot would both return to "conclude the long-planned theatrical trilogy".

Christmas Day also saw the Walt Disney Company make Pixar's latest animation Soul available on its Disney+ streaming service.

The film also opened in Chinese cinemas, where both it and Wonder Woman 1984 were soundly bested by Hong Kong action sequel Shock Wave 2.

The festive weekend also saw box office history made by Demon Slayer, an anime film that has made more than $300m in Japan since October.

According to production company Aniplex, the film has now overtaken 2001's Spirited Away to become Japan's top-grossing film of all time.

Japanese cinemas have largely stayed open throughout the pandemic, enabling Demon Slayer to be seen by more than 24 million people.

Aniplex said the film's box office takings now stand at 32.5 billion yen ($314m), exceeding Spirited Away's total takings of 31.7 billion yen.