“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” appears to be losing steam as it ends its second weekend in theaters.
Once again, the critically loathed superhero film topped the box office, picking up $52.4 million. However, that represented a steep 68% fall from its $166 million debut. The results suggest that “Batman v Superman” will be a front-loaded blockbuster along the lines of “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” or “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” all of which earned a disproportionate share of their revenues in their initial weekends and suffered similar drop-offs. Given that the picture features two of the highest-profile comic-book characters in movie history, the results, which on paper are impressive, are nevertheless being heavily scrutinized.
“When you’re squaring off with Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy, good luck,” said Jeff Bock, box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “The bottom line is it wasn’t a film up to the caliber of previous Batman or Superman films.”
Domestically, the Warner Bros. release has picked up a hefty $261.4 million. The major problem facing the studio is it doesn’t just need “Batman v Superman” to be a hit, it needs it to be so fervently embraced that fans will show up to see sequels and spinoffs for years to come. The film is intended to kick off an interconnected cinematic universe of DC Comics characters that Warner Bros. hopes will rival what Marvel has achieved with the Avengers films.
“We’re extremely proud of the film and audiences have turned out in huge numbers and we’re confident they will continue to do that in the weeks to come,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. distribution executive vice president.
Goldstein went on to note that unlike major blockbusters, which typically unspool in the heart of summer when school is out, “Batman v Superman” was released in spring, when a much smaller percentage of students were on spring vacation. That may have made the drop-off more severe, he suggested.
There were advantages to the March release strategy. Namely, there wasn’t much in the way of competition. Most studios steered clear of the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel’s on-screen scuffle, preferring to hold their fire. The next big-budget studio release to hit theaters is Disney’s “The Jungle Book” on April 15. In the interim, Pure Flix tried to engage faith-based audiences with “God’s Not Dead 2,” a follow-up to the 2014 low-budget smash. The picture centers on a school teacher (Melissa Joan Hart, of “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” fame) who gets embroiled in a legal controversy after bringing up Jesus in class. The film wasn’t as warmly embraced as its predecessor, pulling in $8.1 million for a fourth place finish, and trailing the original’s $9.2 million launch, despite opening on 2,318 theaters, more than double the number of locations as the first “God’s Not Dead.”
The weekend’s other new release, Freestyle Releasing’s “Meet the Blacks,” a parody of the film “The Purge,” did $4.1 million after debuting on 1,011 screens. The indie distributor relied heavily on social media to get fans of comedian Mike Epps to theaters.
“We were thrilled with the gross,” said Mark Borde, co-president of Freestyle. “The core audience came out in force. We had a very high per-screen average and we expect this picture to continue to perform extremely well.”
In the holdover department, Disney’s “Zootopia” took second place, with $20 million, pushing the animated hit’s domestic total to $275.9 million. In its second weekend, Universal’s “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” showed some endurance, racking up $11.1 million, a slender 38% drop from its opening weekend. The romantic comedy sequel has earned $36.5 million after two weeks of release. Sony’s “Miracles From Heaven” rounded out the top five, grossing $7.5 million and pushing its total to $46.8 million.
Among indie films, Sony Pictures Classics debuted the Miles Davis biopic “Miles Ahead” in four theaters, where it grossed $122,751, for a per screen average of $30,688, and Paramount bowed Richard Linklater’s college comedy “Everybody Wants Some!!” in 19 theaters, where it earned $371,000.
Bleecker Street expanded the drone thriller “Eye in the Sky” from 123 theaters to 1,029, picking up $4 million. The film, which features one of the late actor Alan Rickman’s final performances, has earned $6.1 million in four weeks of release.
Overall, the box office was down more than 40%, as ticket sales couldn’t match the year-ago period when “Furious 7” launched to a massive $147.2 million. Next weekend, Melissa McCarthy will try to prove she still has the box office touch, debuting the R-rated comedy “The Boss” from Universal, while STX Entertainment will counter with the point-of-view thriller “Hardcore Henry.”