We’ve come a long way in just four years, from “Big news, everyone: we’re getting a Batman/Superman movie!” in 2013 to “Big news, everyone: We’re getting a Wonder Woman sequel!” The sequel was announced two months ago as arriving on Dec. 13, 2020, where it would have had a few weeks after Frozen 2 and been one weekend before Wicked. But now, with the news that Walt Disney will move Star Wars Episode IX to Dec. 20, 2019, everything just changed.
I have to assume that Universal/Comcast Corp. will move Wicked from the danger zone, which is… unfortunate as the long-awaited musical adaptation was (and still is) Universal’s chance to prove that it can play in Disney’s fairy tale musical sandbox. But with Aladdin moved to Memorial Day 2019, the real question is what happens to Wonder Woman 2. We’ll see how WB reacts. They could move Wonder Woman 2 into early November of 2019, where there is currently (allegedly) an “untitled DCFilm” slotted. Or they could do what I frankly expected them to do during SDCC, which is to slot the Patty Jenkins-directed/Gal Gadot-starring adventure right into June 5, 2020. If Warner Bros./Time Warner Inc. does that, then I’m pretty comfortable arguing that Wonder Woman 2 would be the movie to beat in summer of 2020.
Yes, as leggy as it was and as well-liked as it was, I would argue that Wonder Woman indeed sets up the potential for a breakout sequel. By that, as longtime readers know, I mean that a big chunk of the audience that discovered the film on opening weekend, after opening weekend and after its theatrical run will all cram into the theater on the Fri-Sun debut frame of this second Wonder Woman movie. Sure, Wonder Woman 2 arguably has a lot less room to grow than, say, Pitch Perfect 2 (which made more on opening weekend than its predecessor made overall), but we have seen peak-performing “originals” grow a little bigger the next time out.
Think Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (which went from a $306 million-grossing original to a $135m Fri-Sun opening/$423m-grossing sequel) or Hunger Games: Catching Fire ($158m opening/$424m domestic total compared to $152m/$409m for The Hunger Games). I’m not going to argue the potential for a Dark Knight or Furious 7-type uptick (hopefully all cast and crew remain safe-and-healthy), but an uptick like The Bourne Supremacy ($52m debut/$172m total from a $29m debut/$121m total) or, ironically enough, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($146m/$391m versus $94m/$333m), is entirely plausible.
To be fair, this could be a Star Trek into Darkness situation where the follow-up to a much liked/leggy franchise starter doesn’t break bigger than the first film. There is a good chance at a halfway decent Wonder Woman 2 being a breakout sequel, and it has a pretty decent chance of winning the summer, at least in North America. No, we don’t yet know what the big summer kickoff MCU movie is going to be, coming as it does one year after Avengers: That Which Must Not Be Named. I guess Fox could stick Wolverine and Deadpool Kill the Fantastic Four on June 26 or Comcast could unleash DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek Takes The Fifth which turns out to be the best Shrek ever. But otherwise, yeah, there are only a few summer biggies that stand a chance against Wonder Woman 2.
Yes, Warner Bros.’ own Godzilla vs. Kong will be a big deal over Memorial Day weekend, and yeah Universal/Comcast Corp. and Illumination’s Minions 2 will try for another $1 billion+ worldwide run. But unless Walt Disney’s Indiana Jones sequel turns out to be as good as The Last Crusade or something insanely huge drops itself into the middle of the summer as one of those untitled offerings, the summer is Diana’s to lose. And you may argue that very little has been slotted for May-August of 2020, but I ask you what is out there that might conceivably best a well-received Wonder Woman movie?
Just this summer, Wonder Woman surpassed Spider-Man, Gru and Optimus Prime, to say nothing of the Guardians of the Galaxy and Jack Sparrow. The Hunger Games is done, and it was declining by the last two films anyway. The second Spider-Man: Homecoming comes out in summer 2019, as does Toy Story 4, The Lion King, Avengers 4 and Star Wars 9. And next year is when we’re getting that Jurassic World sequel, so that’s off the table. Pretty much all the MCU characters will have, by 2020, met each other, so there isn’t much aside from maybe Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 as a summer kick-off movie that could provide a challenge in that sense.
There haven’t been very many big summer movies that have earned as much in North America as Wonder Woman just did, and all of those franchises are either winding down or not in play when the sequel arrives. So, barring a surprise downturn for Wonder Woman, a surprisingly strong showing from something else or a yet-undated movie that can mount a real challenge, the domestic box office crown for summer of 2020 is Wonder Woman’s to lose. But, fear not, the worldwide crown for 2020 will still likely go to Avatar 2, assuming said movie does eventually exist.