Zack Snyder’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice has proven to be an extremely polarizing film, to the point where people can’t agree on whether or not it can be considered a financial success. It broke box office records during its opening weekend (including a strong $166 million domestically), but then suffered a steep decline in business the following weeks. While its worldwide total of $862.8 million is certainly nothing to sneeze at, Batman V Superman isn’t exactly the runaway smash Warner Bros. was most likely hoping for in an era where massive “event” films are expected to bring in $1 billion or more.
Dawn of Justice was already under tremendous pressure to be a hit, but that scrutiny only increased about a month prior to its premiere – when 20th Century Fox’s Deadpool set the box office ablaze. The R-rated, non-3D comic adaptation starring a more obscure character (compared to the trifecta of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman) grossed $132.4 million in its first three days (a February record) en route to a $361.8 million total in North America. One would have thought that if Deadpool could manage that, the first big screen pairing of the Dark Knight and Man of Steel would be able to eclipse it. However, that doesn’t look like it will be the case.
A new report from THR indicates that Batman V Superman should finish its run as the seventh largest comic book film at the worldwide box office, with the final tally estimated to be around $875 million. Domestically, it’s a little lower on the charts, ranking eleventh. As of this writing, it’s made $325.1 million in the States. Batman V Superman could conceivably pass Guardians of the Galaxy ($333.2 million) and Spider-Man 3 ($336.5 million) when it’s all said and done, but it won’t be able to top Deadpool and will come nowhere near the final two installments of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.
Even though Batman V Superman opened over the Easter holiday, where competition was scarce, it was only able to hold the top spot at the box office for two weeks before it was unseated by the Melissa McCarthy comedy The Boss. For comparison’s sake, Deadpool held the #1 position for three weekends, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens did it for four. The most likely culprit for Dawn of Justice‘s quick drop-off was the mixed word-of-mouth. Whereas similar tentpoles in recent months enjoyed an enthusiastic response from critics and audiences, Batman V Superman scored largely negative reviews, which hurt its overall appeal. If the reaction was more positive, then it would have been able to clear $1 billion with no issues.
By the same token, Batman V Superman marked a significant improvement over the figures posted by Man of Steel. Though the solo Superman reboot will go down as the more profitable endeavor for WB, it brought in $668 million worldwide, creating a nearly $200 million gap between the two films. That shows that there’s still an interest in seeing DC Comics adaptations, meaning if future projects are better received, the burgeoning franchise will be in great shape. After all, Marvel Studios didn’t cross the $1 billion plateau until 2012’s The Avengers, which was their sixth production. The DC Extended Universe is only two films in now, with Suicide Squad on the way this August.
Rumors of massive shakeups to the DCEU continue to swirl, but for the most part, things are sticking to plan. Snyder is still calling the shots on the first Justice League film, which is currently in production. It’s true that WB executives are allegedly taking a more hands-on approach following concerns about Batman V Superman, but they remain confident the DC property can be one of their lynchpins for years to come. Sony’s failed Amazing Spider-Man series showed that things don’t always work out regardless of brand recognition, but there are enough talented people working within the DCEU that they should be able to correct the course and deliver quality films for the genre.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is now playing in U.S. theaters. Suicide Squad will arrive on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on June 19, 2020.