After Marvel Studios changed the comic book movie game with The Avengers and their Marvel Cinematic Universe, Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment are beginning to piece together their DC Extended Universe. This year sees the release of Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and David Ayer's Suicide Squad - two films that feature a bevy of important characters for the franchise, setting the stage for Justice League team-ups and solo vehicles for various superheroes.
The studio is banking hard on the DCEU's success, having already scheduled a full slate of projects that will hit theaters between now and 2020. If WB is to leave their own mark on the genre, they need Batman V Superman to be a hit with audiences and start the whole thing on the right foot. The first box office predictions for Dawn of Justice's opening weekend are in, and it looks like they won't have much trouble drawing in crowds to see "the greatest gladiator match in the history of the world."
Box Office projects that Batman V Superman will gross approximately $154 million domestically in its first three days, and around $380 million for its entire run in the States. That would be a noticeable increase from the debut of Man of Steel, which made $116.6 million in June 2013. The additions of Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) to the cast are credited with giving the followup a boost, giving Dawn of Justice more of an "event" feel due to the presence of numerous heroes.
Some moviegoers may look at the $154 million figure and consider it low, especially since Batman V Superman's "competition" that weekend will be My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. We're coming off of the unprecedented performance of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which shattered several box office records - including $247.9 million during its opening weekend. But it's important to keep in mind that The Force Awakens was the first new Star Wars movie in more than a decade, while Dawn of Justice comes three years after Man of Steel (which divided most viewers). As excited as many are to see Batman and Superman go head-to-head, there are few things that can contend with the greatly-marketed return of the Star Wars franchise.
Those who enjoy comparing DC movies to Marvel will note that Batman V Superman is tracking lower than either Avengers film or Iron Man 3, despite featuring two of the most recognizable pop culture icons in the world. However, the two franchises are in very different places. When the first Avengers movie hit in 2012, Marvel Studios had spent the previous 4 years introducing their characters and building a relationship with the moviegoing public with entertaining, well-received movies. They didn't reach the heights of $200 million until they had a few titles under their belt. Dawn of Justice is just the second movie that's part of the DCEU, and right now it's safe to say the property doesn't have the best reputation with casual viewers. Some remain skeptical of Batman V Superman's potential quality, meaning they may choose to wait until word-of-mouth starts to spread before seeing it in the theater.
Still, $154 million would be an impressive start for the film, all things considered. Should Batman V Superman hit that mark, it will score the 10th highest-grossing opening weekend of all-time, and beat the first Hunger Games adaptation for the best March debut ever. And since it's coming out in the spring, getting a head start on the various summer blockbusters, it should have strong legs throughout April. Dawn of Justice is all but guaranteed to be one of 2016's safest box office bets. How people react to it will be the greater indicator of the DCEU's longevity.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will be in theaters on March 25th, 2016; Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman – June 23rd, 2017; Justice League – November 17th, 2017; The Flash – March 23rd, 2018; Aquaman – July 27th, 2018; Shazam – April 5th, 2019; Justice League 2 – June 14th, 2019; Cyborg – April 3rd, 2020; Green Lantern – June 19th, 2020.
Source: Box Office