Warner Bros.’ “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” has flown off with an impressive $27.7 million on Thursday night.
“Batman v Superman” smashed the record for highest Thursday preshow for an Easter Weekend, set last year by “Furious 7” with $15.8 million on its way to a Good Friday launch of $67.4 million and a $147.2 million opening weekend.
The preview total for “Batman v Superman” includes $3.6 million in Imax shows. The superhero match-up stars Henry Cavill as Superman and Ben Affleck as Batman and the film carries a whopping $250 million price tag.
“Batman v Superman” is expected to generate as much as $150 million this weekend when it hits 4,242 screens domestically, and more than $300 million globally when it rolls out across more than 60 major territories including China, the world’s second biggest market for film. The tentpole took flight internationally on Wednesday with $7 million on roughly 5,900 theaters.
Disney’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” set the Thursday night preview record on Dec. 17 with $57 million in the U.S. “The Force Awakens” easily beat the previous preview screening record of $43.5 million set by Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” in 2011.
The superhero battle will unspool across 390 Imax screens, 3,600 3D venues, 470 premium large format locations and 150 motion seats. Pre-sales have been robust, with Fandango reporting this week that “Batman v Superman” is the fastest-selling superhero film in the ticketer’s history, beating previous record-holders “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” at the same point in the sales cycle.
“Batman v Superman” is aiming at matching the 2012 record set by Jennifer Lawrence’s “The Hunger Games” for the best March domestic opening of all time — $152.5 million.
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” broke the record for top U.S. opening weekend with $248 million, smashing the mark set in June by “Jurassic World” at $208.8 million.
“Batman v Superman” is coming into the market without support from most critics, many who point to what they see as a jumbled story line as Warner Bros. attempts to set up an array of DC movies with new characters such as Wonder Woman and Aquaman. The Rotten Tomatoes rating is at 30%.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore, noted that “Batman v Superman” has been a dominant aspect of social media for many months for several reasons — the premise of the film itself, the casting of Affleck as Batman, speculation as to the film’s overall quality and its ability to deliver on the promise of the marketing campaign.
“‘Batman v Superman’ has much going for it with, first and foremost, the combination of these two iconic characters on the screen together providing an irresistible starting point for fans,” he added. “In addition, a great release date (which gives it basically a month before the next big superhero movie hits theaters), nuggets about some major superhero cameos and just an overall excitement level in the marketplace will give it a shot at smashing the all-time March opening weekend record.”
The weekend’s other opening, Universal’s counterprogrammer comedy “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,” took in $1.02 million at late night shows Thursday, which began at 6 p.m., in 2,395 theaters.
The 2002 original was a phenomenon, grossing $368 million at the global box office. The follow-up, which cost $18 million to produce, is looking at a $10 million debut.
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” stars Nia Vardalos and was produced by Gold Circle Entertainment, HBO and Playtone. Vardalos received an Oscar nomination for the script of the original.