Currently rated 30% (at the time of writing this) on Rotten Tomatoes, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice hasn’t been generating a great response from critics on the whole. Despite claims from some that the film is too long, overstuffed and lacking in humour – could Warner Brothers still pull it off a win here, financially-speaking? What with box office analyst, Jeff Bock, claiming that this negativity would affect the film’s takings over the opening weekend, it wasn’t sounding too good for this superhero showdown.
Well the box office figures are in for Thursday’s late opening night with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice having earned a whopping $27.7 million. The Zack Snyder directed superhero tentpole took in just a bit more than last year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, which grossed $27.6 million during its own Thursday evening opening night. The DC punch-up now ranks 7th in best preview opening in history, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens currently reigning at the top spot with $57 million, from back in December of 2015. It’s also worth mentioning that $3.6 million of Batman V Superman‘s total comes from IMAX previews; a new record for European pre-show numbers.
In comparison, the DCEU’s only other movie to date, Man of Steel only drew in $9 million during its Thursday evening showings back in 2013. Of course, this large gap can be attributed to the fact that a versus movie between the two giants of the DC Comics universe was always going to be more of an ‘event’, all the more so after years of having built up hype. THR is currently projecting that Batman V Superman will ultimately make north of $160 million domestically in its opening weekend. That number would also push Batman V Superman past Deadpool for the biggest domestic box office opening weekend of 2016 to date, with the latter (an R-Rated superhero film released by 20th Century Fox) having earned $132 million during its opening frame in February.
Apart from opening at no.1 in every European market, Batman V Superman also had a strong opening in the second largest market in the world, China – where it raked in $20.3 million. If anything, Snyder’s latest divisive DC Comics film adaptation has defied critics thus far and is on its way to becoming a significant commercial hit on the whole. If so, that means it will ultimately have succeed at launching the DC Extend Universe, with the next installment in Suicide Squad waiting in the winds for arrival this summer – followed by Wonder Woman and Justice League Part One in 2017.
Does Batman V Superman‘s box office performance mean that reviews make no impact on initial box office takings in general? Certainly not (see Fantastic Four (2015) for the obvious counter-example), but the simple fact is that there’s currently a huge audience and fanbase for superheroes movies, both hardcore and casual – and nothing the critics say will stop audiences flocking to see this long awaited battle of DC superheroes, whether good or not. As to whether or not Captain America: Civil War (or, if you prefer “Captain America V Iron Man: Dawn of Infinity War“) can match Batman V Superman on a financial level, while eclipsing its critical reception? We’ll have to wait until May to find that out.
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 23, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps. on June 19, 2020.