Announced at San Diego Comic-Con 2013, Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is finally here. Easily one of the most anticipated films of 2016, the Man of Steel follow-up is seen as the true launching pad for the burgeoning DC Extended Universe. After years of hoping for DC's collected superheroes to join forces on the big screen, longtime fans are finally getting that wish fulfilled. Warner Bros. has scheduled a full slate of adaptations for release between now and 2020, indicating they are confident in the franchise's ability to draw in moviegoers.
As the first live-action pairing of pop culture icons Batman and Superman, it has always been expected that Dawn of Justice would do well financially. Tracking indicates that it will bring in about $350 million worldwide during its opening weekend, around $150 million of that domestically. Whether it's fair or not, many moviegoers will be comparing Batman V Superman's box office performance to that of the first superhero blockbuster of 2016: Deadpool. Fox's mid-budget, R-rated, non-3D project rode strong word-of-mouth to the tune of $132.4 million in its first three days, a February record. Some have set that as the benchmark Dawn of Justice must clear to be considered successful, but can it? Let's break it down.
At first glance, Batman V Superman should have no issues grossing more than $150 million. For more than 70 years, the Dark Knight and the Last Son of Krypton have been at the forefront of the zeitgeist, each one starring in his own set of hit movies. In particular, Batman is a major draw for audiences; Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy made $2.5 billion collectively very recently. Superman isn't exactly a slouch either, since Man of Steel's $668 million global haul was enough to warrant the green light of an entire series set in the world it established. Bringing them together is something that will generate a lot of interest, making this a true cinematic event. Case in point: it's already surpassed similar genre titles in terms of advanced ticket sales.
Batman V Superman should also receive a healthy boost from its release date, where there is minimal "competition." Other than the far-too-late sequel My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, no other films are opening wide this weekend. It appears that the industry as a whole is staying away from Snyder's movie, paving the way for Dawn of Justice to be a monumental hit. With IMAX 3D premiums, a more-inclusive PG-13 rating, and some of the most recognizable superheroes on the planet, odds are Batman V Superman will be able to meet the high (commercial) expectations and perhaps set a new record for an opening weekend in March, currently $152.5 million by the first Hunger Games.
If there's anything that will cause the film to fall to the lower end of projections, it's word-of-mouth. In stark contrast from Deadpool, the early reviews for Batman V Superman have been largely negative. It's true that Man of Steel was able to gross $116.6 million during its first three days with its mixed reaction, but the response this time has arguably been worse. The Superman reboot scored a 56 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and as of this writing, Batman V Superman stands at a paltry 31 percent. Many moviegoers weren't pleased with Snyder's darker take on Kal-El, leading them to be skeptical of Dawn of Justice's quality; casual viewers left unimpressed by the first film may choose to sit this round out. Despite that, estimates for Batman V Superman remain high. Box Office says it will make $172 million over the weekend, which would be a great start.
As we've said, the poor reviews will prevent Dawn of Justice from surpassing the initial projections, a la Deadpool or Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The chances of it posting $200 million are slim because of the bad buzz. Still, this is a film that has been greatly anticipated by millions of people for years, meaning that in a way it is "critic proof." No matter what the pundits said, moviegoers were going to turn out en masse to see Batman and Superman share the same frame in a live-action film. There were never any doubts about its potential box office prowess, the debate was always how high could it go. Given that it's breaking Fandango records and is coming out during a time with few other blockbusters playing, it would be a shock if Batman V Superman did not top Deadpool, even if it was "only" $140 million domestically.
The far more interesting discussion is how well Batman V Superman will hold in the coming weeks, but that's a talk for another day.
Next week: Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice takes on the competition in its second weekend!
Source: Box Office
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