New Year’s Weekend Box Office Forecast: Wonder Woman 1984 Set to Ring In 2021 as Mid-Pandemic’s Top Film

Photo Credits: Warner Bros. ("Wonder Woman 1984"); Universal Pictures ("News of the World")

Following a best-of-the-pandemic-era debut last weekend, Wonder Woman 1984 is charting an easy course toward a repeat claim atop the domestic box office over the New Year’s frame.

Fresh off that $16.7 million first weekend, underscored by a litany of asterisks such as the pandemic itself and the sequel’s day-and-date streaming release on HBO Max, Warner Bros.’ tentpole won’t be facing any direct competition this weekend — or anytime soon, for that matter.

Studios typically sit out the New Year’s frame for the most part, and that’s certainly true in a market where less than 40 percent of theaters are open right now. January itself only boasts a handful of films slated to open nationwide, and if the DC sequel can stabilize after expected post-holiday drops, it may be sitting on top of the box office charts for at least a few weeks.

When New Year’s Day lands on a Friday, as it does this year, most films generally hold quite well from the preceding Christmas-led frame. The last time this occurred was in 2015 when Star Wars: The Force Awakens was in the early weeks of its historic run. That movie, in its third weekend of release, eased 39.5 percent from the weekend before.

More relevantly, films that opened on Christmas Day generated soft drops due to the holiday corridor. Wonder Woman 1984 is more directly comparable to those titles from a release date standpoint, although we’re estimating its opening day business was more front-loaded than the likes of Daddy’s Home or Point Break.

For example, those films slipped just 24.6 percent and 30.4 percent, respectively, over New Year’s. Patty Jenkins’ superhero sequel will likely come in a bit higher than the declines of those films, particularly given the film’s mixed reception and aforementioned streaming availability.

Meanwhile, other movies should generate strong holds with audiences able and willing to visit cinemas right now. In fact, several movies are expanding their theatrical footprint with News of the World rising from 1,900 to 1,928 locations, The Croods: A New Age from 1,726 to 1,751, and Promising Young Woman from 1,310 to 1,333. Warner Bros. has not reported any confirmation location counts for 1984 since their Sunday report citing 2,151 domestic venues screening the film.

The only studio-confirmed “nationwide” release this weekend looks to be a re-issue of Ridley Scott’s original Alien in an estimated 505 locations. Disney is re-distributing the film out of their 20th Century Studios archives, continuing a frequent tradition throughout the past few months. Re-releases have seen diminishing returns for the most part during that time, though, so it wouldn’t be surprising if this one clocks in well below that of Die Hard‘s $189,000 weekend early December re-release at 1,172 theaters.

Weekend Forecast

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, January 3 % Change from Last Wknd
Wonder Woman 1984 Warner Bros. Studios $9,400,000 $36,300,000 -44%
The Croods: A New Age Universal Pictures $2,000,000 $34,300,000 15%
News of the World Universal Pictures $1,600,000 $5,200,000 -29%
Monster Hunter Sony / Columbia $940,000 $6,150,000 -16%
Promising Young Woman Focus Features $620,000 $1,875,000 -14%
Fatale Lionsgate $550,000 $2,950,000 -17%
Pinocchio (2020) Roadside Attractions $220,000 $680,000 -18%
Alien (2021 Re-Issue) Disney / 20th Century Studios $90,000 $90,000 NEW
The War with Grandpa 101 Studios $80,000 $18,600,000 -11%

All forecasts subject to change before the first confirmation of weekend estimates from studios or alternative sources.

Forecasts above do not necessarily represent the top ten, but rather films with the widest theatrical footprint based on studio confirmations entering the weekend.

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Photo Credits: Warner Bros. ("Wonder Woman 1984"); Universal Pictures ("News of the World")