We waited what felt like forever for "Wonder Woman 1984." But guess what? "Wonder Woman 3" is on the way.
Two days after director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot's second "Wonder Woman" movie was unveiled simultaneously in 2,151 theaters and on HBO Max, Warner Bros. has announced it will fast-track development of the third film in the DC Comics franchise.
"As fans around the world continue to embrace Diana Prince, driving the strong opening weekend performance of ‘Wonder Woman 1984,’ we are excited to be able to continue her story with our real life Wonder Women – Gal and Patty – who will return to conclude the long-planned theatrical trilogy," Warner Bros. chairman Toby Emmerich said in a statement.
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Gal Gadot's superheroine busts up a mall heist in the sequel "Wonder Woman 1984."
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Despite being available on streaming, "Wonder Woman 1984" managed the best box-office debut of the pandemic, opening with $16.7 million for Christmas weekend, according to studio estimates on Sunday.
Warner Bros. didn't share viewership numbers but said nearly half of HBO Max subscribers watched "Wonder Woman 1984" in its first day on the streaming platform.
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Still, the haul of "1984" is only a faint glimmer of the typical holiday season, when cinemas are usually packed and box-office receipts are among the best of the year. Last year, "Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker" exceeded $32 million on Christmas Day alone.
According to Comscore, 35% of all North American theaters are currently open.
"Wonder Woman 1984" grossed an additional $19.4 million in international markets where it began playing a week earlier. The sequel has made $85 million globally to date.
"This is a very weak theatrical opening," said David Gross, who runs the movie consultancy FranchiseRe. "With more than half of North American theaters closed and the pandemic surging, the majority of moviegoers and fans have little choice but to watch the film on television."
Warner Bros. has been come under criticism throughout Hollywood for its plans to divert "Wonder Woman 1984" and all of its 2021 titles to HBO Max, along with a theatrical run, in a bid to boost subscribers. Earlier this month, AT&T chief executive John Stankey said the service has 12.6 million activated users.
The studio nevertheless seized on the returns for "Wonder Woman 1984" as best as could be expected, given the circumstances.
" 'Wonder Woman 1984' broke records and exceeded our expectations across all of our key viewing and subscriber metrics in its first 24 hours on the service, and the interest and momentum we're seeing indicates this will likely continue well beyond the weekend," said Andy Forssell, executive vice president and general manager for WarnerMedia's direct-to-consumer operations. "During these very difficult times, it was nice to give families the option of enjoying this uplifting film at home, where theater viewing wasn't an option."
"Wonder Woman 1984" wasn't the only big movie that detoured to homes for Christmas. Disney steered its new Pixar movie "Soul" to Disney+ but did not provide viewing numbers. The movie opened theatrically in some international markets, most notably in China where it earned $5.5 million. Universal released "News of the World," a Western starring Tom Hanks, only in theaters, where it grossed an estimated $2.4 million domestically.
Emerald Fennell's acclaimed "Promising Young Woman," starring Carey Mulligan, debuted in 1,300 theaters, making $680,000.
Contributing: Kim Willis, USA TODAY, and Jake Coyle, The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Wonder Woman 3' is a go after '1984' earns $16.7M in theaters while streaming on HBO Max