Big-Screen Blockbusters Like Batman v Superman
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Box office estimates were too bullish for “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

Now that the final numbers have been tallied, it turns out that the superhero gladiator fight grossed $166.1 million, Warner Bros. said Monday. That’s $4 million less than the $170.1 million that the studio initially projected “Batman v Superman” would generate in its first weekend.

It’s still a massive figure, representing a record for a March debut, for Easter weekend and for a DC Comics film. The revised numbers do, however, mean that “Batman v Superman” will drop a rung on the all-time list of top openings. It’s now the seventh biggest debut, behind “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2’s” $169.2 million launch and in front of “The Dark Knight Rises'” $160.9 million bow. “Batman v Superman” ranks as the second biggest debut for Warner Bros.

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The film grossed $81.6 million from Thursday pre-shows and on its first day of release on Friday, $50.7 million on Saturday and $33.8 million on Sunday, which coincided with Easter. Looking ahead, the studio is confident the film will do well this week, given that many schools are off for spring break. It should also benefit from a lack of competition — there isn’t another major blockbuster hitting theaters until Disney’s “The Jungle Book” on April 15.

A lot was riding on “Batman v Superman’s” performance. Warner Bros. is looking for new franchises to replace outgoing series such as “Harry Potter” and “The Hobbit,” and the hope is that the film will kick off a number of interconnected sequels and spinoffs featuring DC Comics characters. The studio spent $250 million to produce the film and tens of million more in promotional materials. Going into the weekend, the film was expected to bring in roughly $140 million.

Zack Snyder (“Man of Steel”) directs the film with Ben Affleck as Batman and Henry Cavill as Superman. Reviews were savage, with many critics faulting the film for being over-stuffed with characters and undone by loose narrative threads. Audiences were kinder, handing “Batman v Superman” a B CinemaScore.

The film also did brisk business abroad. It launched to $254 million overseas from 66 markets, including China, where it grossed $57.3 million, the best ever debut for a Warner Bros. release.

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