There's a lot riding on Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. The film not only marks the debut of Ben Affleck's Batman and the second outing of Henry Cavill's Superman, but also serves as the cornerstone of the DC Extended Universe, which already has a full slate of films planned out all the way up to 2020 - including Suicide Squad (set for release this summer), Wonder Woman (which is currently in production) and Justice League (which begins filming next month). It's far too late to turn back the tide on this massive new franchise, which is why it's all the more important for Warner Bros. that Batman V Superman wins audiences over.
Fortunately for the studio, Zack Snyder's movie is off to an excellent start at the box office. Despite proving to be critically divisive, Batman V Superman has had audiences flocking to the theaters all weekend, grossing $82 million in its opening day alone. Now estimates are in for the weekend, and it looks like there were plenty of people in the stands for Batman and Superman's gladiator match.
According to THR, Batman V Superman has opened to a massive $170.1 million domestic debut across 4,242 theaters. This by far exceeds the early estimates for a $100-140 million opening. The film has already broken a few box office records and has ranked very well in others. Assuming that the current estimate holds, here are the key areas in which it has shone (not adjusted for inflation):
- No. 1 worldwide opening weekend for a superhero movie
- No. 1 opening for Warner Bros. (just about overtaking Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2)
- No. 1 opening for a DC Comics-based movie (putting The Dark Knight Rises in second place)
- No. 1 pre-summer debut
- No. 1 Easter weekend box office
- Fourth biggest superhero movie opening of all time
- Fifth biggest North American debut of all time
UPDATE: Worldwide numbers are now in, with TheWrap reporting estimates of $254 million across 40,000 screens in 66 foreign markets, bringing the movie's total opening weekend to $424 million. Thanks in large part to a day-and-date release that included a $57.3 million debut in China, this makes Batman V Superman's worldwide opening weekend the biggest of all time for a superhero movie.
Regardless of whether or not you liked Batman V Superman, this strong opening is good news for comic book fans everywhere (and even for Marvel Studios, Warner Bros.' main competitor in the genre), since it demonstrates that even casual moviegoers are showing no sign of superhero fatigue. Batman V Superman serves as a narrative lead-in for a number of other upcoming DC films, particularly Wonder Woman and Snyder's two Justice League movies, so the enthusiastic audience turnout bodes well for those releases (as does the positive response to Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman, who has been praised as a highlight even in many of the negative reviews).
The next test will be how strong Batman V Superman's holdover proves to be over the coming weeks, as some industry analysts have estimated that the film needs to gross $800 million worldwide just to break even, due to its $250 million production and no doubt equally substantial marketing and distribution costs.
Finally, in another piece of good news, Batman V Superman's direct competitor at the Easter weekend box office, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, has exceeded expectations with an $18.1 million debut. Perhaps there were a few people who decided to celebrate the holiday by watching the two movies back-to-back.
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.