Box Office: ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ Shatters Records With $170.1 Million Debut

Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” steamrolled past records, debuting to a gargantuan $170.1 million over Easter weekend despite being pilloried by critics. That ranks as the top opening weekend for a DC Comics film, the best March launch ever and the sixth-biggest domestic opening weekend of all-time.

It’s a shot in the arm for Warner Bros., which has been reeling from a series of costly bombs such as “Jupiter Ascending” and “Pan,” and is looking to the Dark Knight and Man of Steel throw down to kick off a series of inter-connected comic-book franchises. Warner Bros. has already announced release dates for sequels and spinoffs for the next five years, with the first of these superhero adventures, “Suicide Squad,” coming out in August.

“This sets us up well,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. distribution executive vice president. “We’re very proud of what we’ve made before in the DC world and what’s coming in front of us is really exciting.”

The studio spared no expense, tapping Ben Affleck to assume Batman’s cape and cowl, bringing back “Man of Steel” director Zack Snyder and Superman star Henry Cavill, and shelling out $250 million in production expenses, as well as millions more in promotional razzle dazzle. The bet appears to have paid off, positioning DC and Warners to have the kind of cinematic universe of costumed heroes and villains that rival Marvel has leveraged to enormous profits.

It also undercuts the influence of top critics. Reviews for “Batman v Superman” were withering — the New York Times’ A.O. Scott said seeing the film is “…about as diverting as having a porcelain sink broken over your head” — but audiences didn’t care. They were kinder to the picture too, giving the film a B CinemaScore grade.

“It’s the fans that speak the loudest,” said Jeff Bock, a box office analyst for Exhibitor Relations. “It proves how strong these characters are.”

The film’s audience was largely male (66%) and crowds tended to be younger, with 63% of ticket buyers ranging between the ages of 18 and 34. Imax showings contributed $18 million to the gross, premium large format screens added an estimated $17 million to the earnings, 3D screens were responsible for 40% of the opening weekend results and RealD 3D accounted for an estimated $47 million of the total.

“The filmmakers delivered experientially on something that can best be seen in movie theaters,” said Greg Foster, CEO of Imax Entertainment. “This is not a movie that anyone wants to see in a small venue.”

Last weekend’s champ, “Zootopia,” slid to second place, racking up $23.1 million to push the family film’s domestic total to $240.5 million. Globally, the Disney Animation blockbuster has earned $696.7 million, pushing it past the likes of “Tangled,” “Big Hero 6” and “Ratatouille.”

In third place, Universal scored a counter-programming success with “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.” The romantic comedy pulled in female crowds not interested in watching the superhero beatdown, earning a solid $18.1 million from 3,133 locations.

“It’s not so much to do with strategy and positioning as it is just a fun film,” said Nick Carpou, Universal’s distribution chief. “It’s about family and everyone has that experience and can relate to a lot of what’s in the film and the way people care for each other in the story.”

“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” is a follow-up to the 2002 box office phenomenon, which grossed $368 million at the global box office. Gold Circle Entertainment, HBO and Playtone produced the sequel for $18 million and brought back original stars Nia Vardalos and John Corbett.

The weekend was a grim one for Lionsgate, which saw “The Divergent Series: Allegiant” plunge 67% in its second weekend, eking out $9.5 million. The film has earned $46.6 million, a disappointing result that puts the studio in an uncomfortable position given that another sequel, “Ascendant,” is currently scheduled to debut in June 2017, when it will face off against heavy hitters such as “World War Z 2” and a reboot of “The Mummy.”

Sony’s “Miracles From Heaven” tied for fourth, earning $9.5 million, and pushing the faith-based drama’s domestic haul to $34.1 million after two weeks.

In limited release, Sony Pictures Classics debuted the Hank Williams drama “I Saw the Light” to $50,464 on five screens, for a per screen average of $10,093, while Bleecker Street’s drone thriller “Eye in the Sky” expanded from 35 theaters to 123 in its third week, earning $1 million and pushing its domestic total to $1.7 million.

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  1. emprater says:

    After all that boasting about pre release ticket sales being higher than Jurassic World and Avengers it makes less opening weekend than Jurassic World both Avengers film and even Iron Man 3. Watch how bad this thing tanks from here now all the fans have bought tickets. Its already set records for massive friday to saturday to sunday drops. Next week will be a massive drop and set a new record for week 2 drops.

    • How predictable-we have a Marvel troll in the forum! Be careful what you wish for-Batman and Superman are arguably THE 2 most recognizable and iconic comic characters in the world bar none. Critic barbs and biased people like you won’t stop this juggernaut. I’m a Comic Book/superhero fan. I love BOTH Marvel and DC heroes. Then again, I’m above the age of 16. I grew up without this silly ‘rivalry’ that poisons the comic universe. I was there for the birth of the independents too. Like Dark Horse, Valiant, and Image. Anyone remember ‘Pitt’, ‘Spawn’, ‘The Maxx’, ‘Shadowman’, ‘X-O Manowar’, ‘The Savage Dragon’ or Bloodshot’ (to name just a few)? I didn’t ‘hate’ on any company. It’s disturbing to me to see the hatred of today’s comic generation. Just take a gander at any youtube forum to get my point. But back to the movie:The fans of Frank Miller’s ‘Dark Knight Returns’ (penned 30 years ago now) know exactly what to expect going in, and the majority all agree Snyder delivers. Everyone panned Affleck and he is getting rave reviews as Bats (shades of Michael Keaton?)…this film is NOT perfect. But it is nowhere NEAR as bad as the comic book ignorant critics have declared. But the majority of film critics have already HAD IT with the comic-book film adaptation craze regardless of which heroes are hitting the Silver Screen next. I’m sure the greedy Marvel execs were hoping the critics advance panning would cripple the set-up film (Batman V. Superman) for a ‘Justice League’ franchise, but it WILL have the legs-wait and prepare to eat crow. Marvel has some really great films under it’s belt. But need I remind you also of Marvel’s lack-luster contributions to the genre? Lets see…’Spider-man 3′, ‘Hulk’, ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’, ‘Wolverine: X-Men Origins’, ‘The Amazing Spider-man 2’ (we are coming up on the THIRD Spidey re-boot already), ‘Thor: The Dark World’, ‘Iron Man 3’, and I’ve saved the best of the worst for last: not one but all THREE ‘Fantastic Four’ films. Even ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ was considered a disappointment when compared to ‘The Avengers’ debut (but I enjoyed it very much). We true fans can read between the lines and know to ignore the ‘haters’ and the ‘trolls’ by now, and to make up our OWN minds regardless of what mainstream critics and biased fan-Boys have to say. Now in the words of the mighty Stan Lee: “Excelsior!”

  2. John says:

    I’m not surprised Batman vs. Superman did so well. I don’t know what the fuss from the critics is all about. Personally I love this Batman vs. Superman, it was very well made, didn’t feel long at all. If people expect to build emotional connection with the characters, this is not the right movie, look at it as a popcorn movie, you’ll have a lot of fun. The most exciting part of the movie was when Wonder Woman showed up, even though we saw that in the trailer, it was really cool to see that again. Only in the trailer she blocked the light beam with her shield, but in the movie she blocked the initial light beam with her wrists, what made that scene so perfect was the guitar soundtrack in the background, I think that was scored by Junkie XL instead of Hans Zimmer. The cinematography was beautiful, it looked like most of the movie was shot on Panavision rather than the Alexa, the entire movie was lit with low light, it had Christopher Nolan visuals all over it. It makes a lot of difference to watch this in Dolby Atmos, that’s where even the best home theater system won’t give you nearly the same experience. This movie was well done, I’ll go see it again this week. What a way to kick of the movie season, Batman vs. Superman rocks! Easily the best DC movie so far.

  3. adfd says:

    I imagine that is why it was released in March, which is about 2 months before summer movies are usually released. Released so that it can make more money, without much competition.

  4. Justin says:

    Congrats to B vs S on that March record opening. Even if it drops -60% next weekend, we’re still looking at a $70 MILLION weekend.

  5. B. O. Truth says:

    All that matters is the drop next week and I think we’re looking at 60% drop off. It will never see the 500 mil domestic it needed to pay off and sets a shaky base for a bunch of spin offs. It’s bad.

  6. Lance says:

    LOL, where are the fanboys who said this crap would make over $200 million opening weekend?

  7. This IS NOT a record domestically $171m- both Avenger films exceeded that:$207m and $191m. BvS went day and date with China something which the Avenger films DID NOT Do; thereby frontloading the film’s early box office returns. Its true test will be its ability to hold onto its audience in weeks 2 and 3.

    Wasn’t BvS initially slated to be released the same day as a ilttle film titled Capt America Civil War? It is interesting to note that the budget is being estimated at $250 million with a high end of 300m in addition to at least $150m for marketing. It was being reported the film would have to do at minimum $800m, preferably 1 billion to be profitable. Let see if if does.

  8. stevenkovacs says:

    BatmanVSuperman is a winner!💥

  9. Jimmy says:

    BvS is far more adult than Marvel’s 10 year old toy company films like comedy fest Ant Man. Once Marvel’s Infinity War movies come out, it’s all downhill from there.

  10. Akhil says:

    Or maybe, most of the tickets for the weekend may have already been purchased. If the movie can sustain this level of collections, then it is successful.
    Positive word of mouth from audience may matter more than critical reviews, but disaapointed fans may be disinterested in watching this movie multiple times.

  11. Spike says:

    that’s right WB. keep making big films for ten-year-olds and ten-year-old minds. what a sea of idiots. idiots in the studio system and idiots in the theaters.

  12. Bill B. says:

    Didn’t think it would pull this much in after I read the reviews. Still wish Cavill were not Superman. He serves his purpose, but there is just not much charisma there.

    • zzz says:

      He’s a good actor, if you don’t think so then that’s your opinion, but a dumb one. Just sounds like your jealous at this point because of the success he’s had.

  13. Mark Bigford says:

    Batman and Alfred were definitely the highlight of this movie. Great job guys.

  14. pin says:

    ComScore said that 73% of audience said that the movie is very good or excellent

    Said that the parents loved and the children loved too

    Why no sites are talkink about ComScore??

  15. pin says:

    ComScore said that 73% of audience said that the movie is very good or excellent

  16. RJ Boyd says:

    I loved this film. It was everything I hoped it would be and both my son and I left the imax agreeing we’d be back on Monday to see it again.

    What people have to remember is this: for every one, film adoring Roger Ebert there are scores and scores of snide, self-important A. O. Scott’s.

    Hoping this film makes over a billion dollars. Well done to Zack and his team.

  17. chavocaco says:

    I LOVED this movie! It made my friend cry when Superman talks to his dad on the mountain. Also, my cute daughter is 14 years old and she cried in the ending. She is a Superman fan, wink wink. For me, it was so complex and like a puzzle. I can see why people might hate it (if they are lazy or untintelligent – can’t comprehend the deeper meanings – or were really bad at writing papers about books they hated in high school). We are so excited for the sequel!

    • Red Queen says:

      I completely agree! The movie was great. It was everything I wanted and more. There were so many layers and meanings. I really hope it does well at the box office, because this universe definitely deserves to be continued.

      • chavocaco says:

        Well it made 421 million globally in one weekend. Im sure it will make a billion in 2 weeks. So yes, it will be continued. I can’t fkn wait for Justice League 1 and 2. Cannot WAIT!!

  18. Jim says:

    “They were kinder to the picture too, giving the film a B CinemaScore grade.” That’s not a good grade at all….that’s a mediocre grade…even the worst movies get something in the “C” range on their scale…and those grades are only from the Thursday night/Friday audiences, the people most excited to see the movie. Man of Steel had an A- and Amazing Spiderman 2 had a B+ on Cinemascore. Fan ratings are pretty mediocre across other sites too. There’s no doubt that a lot of people were curious to see Batman and Superman together and watch them fight. What kind of legs this movie has remains to be seen as it’s not generating the kind of widespread positive buzz that movies like Jurassic World, Force Awakens and Deadpool rode to the bank for several weeks. Also, this doesn’t mean people are going to show up in droves to see solo movies for Aquaman, Flash, Cyborg, etc. There is a lot that remains to be seen. This article’s claim that WB has now established a cinematic universe that rivals Marvel is wildly premature, particularly given the scathing reviews from critics and the mediocre ratings from movie goers (on average). However, given that box office trackers generally proclaim the entire worldwide gross of a movie before it’s even released, it’s not entirely unexpected.

  19. waz says:

    The real test of its drawing power will be in next 2 weeks. It was GUARANTEED to open big and that doesn’t mean it has wronged all the criticism but how many will go to watch it again?

    • Keiran S-C says:

      its such a relief to see a superhero film taking itself seriously im so fed up with these comedian heros who cant go a scene without squeezing as many one liners in as they can and looney tune villians. BVS in my opinon raises the bar for what we expect from a movie in this genre, i want characters which progress and to see how the world reacts to them while telling complicated indepth narratives, villians which actually seem threatening and a director who doesnt spoon feed the audience everything about the greater story arc in one film then not deliver>> looking at thanos being revealed in the first movie

      • DSykes says:

        So you preferred the garbage dialogue that Amy Adams and Henry Cavill were given? Also, comedian heroes? Right this one had comedian villains instead. lol

      • Keiran S-C says:

        this wasnt supposed to be a reply to anyone srry xd

  20. Len says:

    Is anyone surprised, it’s a hugely entertaining popcorn movie.9/10.

  21. Ben says:

    It’s mostly the hype of opening weekend stuff. This movie will fall hard next week.

  22. Ben says:

    How can they say that the bad reviews had no influence on the box-office ? You don’t know the numbers “BvS” could have made with great reviews. Yes, it did well, but everybody expected that from the first weekend. Now wait for the second weekend…it will drop like a stone in the water. It’s a horrible movie.

  23. BarbJ says:

    Older audiences like it too! It’s a great ride.

  24. Marti723 says:

    Well done BvS! :)
    Can’t wait for the next movie :)

  25. Achille says:

    Critics hated the movie for the very same reasons fans and general audience love it. Between a hundred guys and millions people, guess who’s right? The audience. I can’t wait for the critics to use capital letters in their little articles “CIVIL WAR IS EVERYTHING BATMAN V SUPERMAN SHOULD HAVE BEEN”.

    • cameronwest says:

      I’m a huge comic book fan…and an even bigger batman fan… But the movie was garbage.

      It’s completely obvious that Snyder doesn’t understand (or care to understand) these characters and is just using them to make money. Kind of the same way 10 Cloverfield Lane uses the name “Cloverfield” to draw people in and has little to do with the first movie…the difference being, 10 CL was actually an incredibly good movie.
      Ben donning the cape and cowl was about the only good part of this whole movie and I can’t help but wonder how much better this universe would be if Nolan was the one guiding us towards Justice League. I’m just really, really not excited for what’s coming next :(

      • Compton says:

        I’m a huge comic book fan too and I think Snyder understands these characters very well. I for one prefer his take on these characters compared to previous movie incarnations, especially Superman. If you’re really, really not excited for what’s coming next then no one is forcing you to see those movies.

      • I’m always skeptical of people who use phrases like “the only good thing” when talking about a movie. This movie had its flaws, but it also had lots of great moments. The action scenes were the best I’ve seen in a comic book movie, or any action movie. The world-building for the larger DCEU was solid (it has to earn that “Dawn of Justice” subtitle, after all). Gal Gadot was wonderful (pun intended?), even when she wasn’t kicking ass, and so were Alfred, Perry, Senator Finch, and plenty of other supporting characters. And, though your mileage may vary, these are still my favorite incarnations of Lois and Clark, in any medium. So, yeah, have your opinion, but don’t be so quick to dismiss so many great things about this movie.

    • Anoop Paul says:

      You sir, are spot on!

      • Richard says:

        Neither can I because hopefully Civil War will be what BvS could have been …an action packed superhero movie with a well constructed screenplay with something to say and characters that at least stick to their core beliefs and values. Do reviews matter …haven seen it…busy weekend but if the reviews had been glowing I would have made time . The reviews also turned off my friends who usually come with me but now have little interest in seeing it . MoS which had a A- audience score underperformed the B score for BvS points to dispite this huge opening to underperforming also. Like MoS it will still be a success and the slated JLA movies are moving forward but this could have been so much more . WB really needs to get a better grasp on its characters you might be able to fudge up Batman and Superman but less than top tier properties need much better vehicles .

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