Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice may not open in wide release until Friday - or Thursday evening for the early birds - but it's been a trending topic across news outlets and social media for a few days now. Thanks to appearances by the cast at red carpet premieres, early fan screenings, and most notably the embargo lifting on reviews, the Man of Steel followup is appropriately the buzz topic of the entertainment industry.
The film, which represents the first ever introduction of Wonder Woman and the first time Batman and Superman man have met on the big screen, already set a genre record for pre-sold tickets, and the more that fans talk about it, the more fans should want to see it, right? Yes and no. That aforementioned embargo lift on Batman V Superman reviews may have a significant financial impact against the story which is set to launch the DC Extended Universe.
Simply put, the reviews are not good for Batman V Superman, and as more scores from critics are submitted to aggregate sites Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes, and as more YouTube and social media influencers share their thoughts on director Zack Snyder's latest feature, a negative picture is being painted. Where critical acclaim and extremely positive word-of-mouth propelled last month's Deadpool to shockingly high box office numbers relative to forecasts and its budget, the opposite may apply to BvS - at least partly.
Speaking to Business Insider, box office analyst Jeff Bock from Exhibitor Relations spoke about the adjusting forecasts for Batman V Superman's theatrical debut and just as we suspected, the idea of DC's trinity coming together on screen is exciting and strong enough to help the movie still rake in $150 million or more for Warner Bros. even against negative buzz.
"The negative reviews for Batman v Superman certainly will curtail a mega-opening — fence sitters will likely shy away from it this weekend, and families definitely consider reviews when they have to drop $100 at a movie theater."
At the beginning of the month early box office tracking from the trades saw Batman V Superman aiming for a $120-14o million opening weekend but these numbers seemed too low, especially given its 3D ticket premiums and knowing the current March record is held by the (non-3D) first Hunger Games movie which earned $152.5 million in its debut. This week's most recent estimates suggested a higher $150 million domestic opening weekend and a $350 million worldwide debut.
Here's where word of mouth comes in. There's no way BvS could ever see Star Wars: The Force Awakens numbers but if the reviews and consensus online was that Batman V Superman was amazing and a must-see the buzz boost would draw in masses a la Avengers. That's not quite the case and as Bock points out, the negativity will affect the opening weekend number by preventing it from skyrocketing above projections.
Whether the opening weekend receipts drop below the recent estimates remains to be seen but from a PR perspective all industry insiders agree, it must beat Deadpool's $132 million opening weekend which it hit without 3D and with an R rating. And according to the trades, Batman V Superman needs to hit a billion in total to be a success.
"No matter how you spin it, at the very least it has to do 'Deadpool' business to be considered a successful weekend."
The flip side however, is that even if BvS can't get Avengers or Jurassic World summer money ($200 million which it was never estimated to do anyway), the buzz and marketing is helping in a big way. Deadline now reports that Batman V Superman is projected for an impressive $160 million.
Like Man of Steel, Batman V Superman is already a divisive film and is shaping up to be something that'll potentially polarize audiences. Online fan reactions from special events and early screenings were overwhelmingly positive after all so we'll have a better idea of how mixed the general audience responses are over the weekend and if they agree with critics. That'll ultimately affect the tail end of the film's theatrical run and the potential for return visits from diehard fans.
If audiences enjoy Batman V Superman and its efforts to setup Justice League though - and there's already a lot of love out there for Ben Affleck's Batman and Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman - then WB may end up having an easy path to a major financial hit on their hands. I have tickets for tomorrow and Friday. Cya there.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25, 2016, followed by Suicide Squad on August 5, 2016; 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.
Art by LoganChico