Wonder Woman 1984 lassoed itself into the hearts of DMV residents on Dec. 8, 2019 with the release of the movie’s first full trailer, showing off iconic spots in the region, including The Watergate Hotel, Pennsylvania Avenue, the National Museum of Natural History, the Hirshhorn Museum and Georgetown.
The sequel is the most recent in Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman series, set to hit theaters on Oct. 2. Its release date—originally set for June, then August—was pushed back twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the movie is worth the wait for Northern Virginians, as local viewers will revel in its ties to the region, including the fact that Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins attended McLean High School during her senior year, meaning filming here was a homecoming of sorts for the mastermind behind the movie’s iconic shots, including a fight scene at Alexandria’s empty Landmark Mall.
“Wonder Woman 1984 was in need of some DC locations, but they also needed the support infrastructure,” says Andy Edmunds, the director at Virginia Film Office, which connects moviemakers with Virginia resources and locations needed to film. The organization helped connect Wonder Woman 1984 to the Landmark Mall owners. “They needed a mall, at the end of the day. They needed an empty mall for some of the shots, and lo and behold, we happen to have a great empty mall right there in Northern Virginia.”
The movie, which features big celeb names like Gal Gadot, Chris Pine and Kristen Wiig, only filmed in Virginia for a total of 13 days, but had a significant impact on the region’s economy. In total, it is estimated that Wonder Woman 1984 spent roughly $30 million while filming in DC and Northern Virginia, with $24.8 million being spent in Virginia specifically, according to Edmunds.
“When a production of scale comes into this area, they’re a big economic development engine,” Edmunds says. “They’re like super tourists with a payroll: They stay in hotels, they go to restaurants and they buy truckloads of building supplies, and they hire many highly skilled technicians.”
Of the money spent, $18 million went to Virginia and non-Virginia wages, meaning besides Northern Virginia setting the background for an iconic mall fight scene, many local residents played a part in helping Wonder Woman 1984 come together.
According to Pat Moran, the local casting director for the film, she helped to cast about 40 local DMV regional actors for supporting actor roles. “I put what they call the day players in place,” Moran says. “The day players are essentially people that speak. Could be one line, could be 10 pages. Some of them, once they got hired, they were involved for the duration of the picture, at least two of them. These actors in this area are really very good. There’s a lot of theater in Washington and Virginia, and theater actors translate great to the screen.”