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Everyone's a Critic: 'Wonder Woman' Marketing Scheme Has Worked Out Just Fine, Thanks

By Published on .

A thing of wonder.
A thing of wonder.   Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures via YouTube
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In the weeks leading up to the premiere of Warner Bros./DC Entertainment's "Wonder Woman," the internet was peevishly aflutter with think pieces and armchair analyses of the studio's alleged mishandling of the movie's marketing. People who didn't have vast reserves of experience in launching multimillion-dollar media campaigns charged Warner Bros. with intentionally trying to tank "Wonder Woman" by failing to promote it, a paranoid web of assertions that didn't take into account certain quotidian factors such as the film's release date and production budget. In the history of cinema, no one has ever purposely botched the launch of a $150 million franchise.

Like most internet controversies, the premature nattering about the promotion of "Wonder Woman" turned out to be a whole lot of nothing. After a robust pre-launch campaign that incorporated everything from on-site promotions at South by Southwest and WonderCon to a Nascar integration to a TV-heavy paid-media plan, "Wonder Woman" opened last weekend to an impressive $103.3 million in domestic box office receipts. That marked the all-time most lucrative opening for a movie directed by a woman -- Patty Jenkins also wrote and lensed the 2003 Charlize Theron drama "Monster" -- and put "Wonder Woman" on a pace to rake in as much as $300 million in stateside sales.

As is generally the case with blockbusters, TV did a lot of the heavy lifting. According to iSpot.tv estimates, the studio thus far has invested $24.8 million in national TV inventory, which is within shooting range of the initial outlay for Warner/DC's 2016 release, "Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice." The comparable TV spend for that film, which introduced Gal Gadot in the Wonder Woman role, was $29 million.

Much of the "Wonder Woman" dollars have landed at the Big Four broadcast networks, with the movie's TV campaign beginning in earnest during CBS' coverage of the 2017 Div. I Men's Basketball Tournament. Along with the standard trailers and 30-second cutdowns, Warner Bros. also sprung for a custom spot featuring "Supergirl" star Melissa Benoist and Lynda Carter, who wielded the golden lasso in the 1975-79 ABC/CBS live-action "Wonder Woman" show. That particular execution aired on the CW during the May 22 season finale of "Supergirl."

To date, a dozen variations of the "Wonder Woman" creative have aired on national TV.

"Wonder Woman" spots also have popped up during ESPN and TNT's coverage of the NBA playoffs and in various programs on the Viacom networks MTV, Comedy Central and VH1. According to iSpot, the completion rates for the "Wonder Woman" promos is outstanding, with some 92% of all viewers electing to view the spots in their entirety.

While a certain cohort of knuckle-dragging dudes took to Twitter to quail at the injustice of the boutique theater chain Alamo Drafthouse's decision to host a number of women-only "Wonder Woman" screenings, the gender breakdown of people who have viewed the TV spots is more or less split right down the middle. Per iSpot, 49.8% of those who have watched the promos are female, while the other 50.2% are male.

One-third of those who have seen a "Wonder Woman" spot are in the 18-34 demo.

Among the non-TV marketing stunts designed to get fannies in theater seats are a special "Wonder Woman"-themed ice cream flavor from Cold Stone Creamery, an outdoor initiative that includes a massive building wrap in Times Square, a line of Mattel action figures and accessories and a controversial sweepstakes backed by the diet/fitness snack brand Think Thin.

Since it opened on June 2, "Wonder Woman" has grossed $138.7 million, making it the year's ninth-biggest domestic earner. To date, the film boasts a worldwide gross of $263.7 million.