Box Office: ‘Batman v Superman’ to Soar to $300 Million-Plus Global Debut

Batman v Superman
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

It all comes down to this.

Warner Bros. has been on the ropes for over a year, taking punches as flops like “Pan” and “Jupiter Ascending” piled up at the studio. Throughout the body blows, the company has held up DC Comics as its salvation. On Thursday, the studio unveils “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” a superhero match-up intended to kick off an ambitious series of interconnected comic book movies and serve as Warner Bros.’ answer to Disney’s Marvel universe. If it works, the trips to Neverland and Wachowski world will be forgiven. If it doesn’t, Warner Bros. chief Kevin Tsujihara will be feeling the heat.

“They need this one to be good,” said Eric Handler, an analyst at MKM Partners. “This is the birthing of a new DC universe. It leads to Wonder Woman and Justice League movies. It’s a very important film.”

Directed by Zack Snyder, the slo-mo aficionado behind “Man of “Steel,” and starring Henry Cavill as Superman and Ben Affleck as Batman, the film carries a whopping $250 million price tag. The gamble appears to have paid off. “Batman v Superman” is expected to generate as much as $150 million when it hits 4,200 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.

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“This is basically their ‘Avengers,'” said Jeff Bock, a box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “There’s a ton of buzz about it. They need to open bigger than any DC Comics film ever has.”

Warner Bros. isn’t leaving much to chance. The studio is making the film available in all the myriad premium forms. The superhero rumble 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 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.

It’s shaping up to be a massive weekend for Warner Bros., but there are some factors that could depress attendance. The terrorist attacks in Brussels that left at least 34 people dead and dozens injured may keep audiences away in parts of Europe with heightened security concerns. The film opens in Belgium on Wednesday.

That anxiety could find its way over to American audiences, as well. There is a precedent.  Lionsgate cited terrorist attacks in Paris last fall as a reason that “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” underperformed at the box office.

Reviews are embargoed, but the picture is said to be dark. Affleck told the media that he would not take his son to the film because it could give him nightmares. That means that “Batman v Superman” might be off limits to families with younger children.

“Batman v. Superman” won’t be the weekend’s only new release. Universal will try to do a bit of counterprogramming, offering up “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” in approximately 3,130 North American theaters. The low-budget, 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.

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  1. i hated it . personal opinion . I ha-ted it .

  2. Just says:

    Won’t be surprised at all if this breaks records

  3. Don't Mind Me Now says:

    “They need to open bigger than any DC Comics film ever has.” Sorry to say it, but BvS is not going to topple any records for DC. The film simply does not have the organic buzz that sprung around The Dark Knight and its sequel, and likely less-than-stellar will keep a lot of casual moviegoers away. Plus, being caught right in the middle of Captain America: Civil War and the unexpected super-smash Deadpool won’t help. BvS, after all, is the kind of studio-engineered hit that Deadpool goes out of its way to make fun of. If you have to TELL people your movie is a must-see, how much of a must-see is it really?

    Additionally, American audiences seem to have soured on the grimdark style of movie that BvS appears to be. (I AM NOT PASSING JUDGMENT ON THIS STYLE, JUST TALKING BOX OFFICE) Over the past few years, audiences have consistently favored more light-hearted superhero fare from both Marvel and Fox alike. Man of Steel fell hard after opening weekend, and ultimately couldn’t crack $300 million domestic – a barrier that was easily breached by the likes of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Fox’s Deadpool, even though those films featured characters that were relatively unknown. Similarly, Fox’s Fant4stic was weighed down by its bleak treatment of the source material (among many other factors). For better or worse, people are drawn to more colorful superhero affairs – thus the idiotic parental campaign to make a PG-13 cut of Deadpool, which, despite its R rating, had a lighthearted look that confused parents. BvS has tried to combat this some by showcasing some snarky humor from Alfred and the “I thought she was with you” gag, but most people aren’t looking at his as an all-ages affair. Not that they should – this clearly isn’t one to bring the kids for – but movies that invite the kids bring in more cash, and without the buzzy factor of something like Heath Ledger’s Joker performance or being the “grand finale” like TDKR, BvS really ought to have more inherent all-age appeal if it truly wants to rake in the dough.

    However it turns out as a piece of commercial art, BvS isn’t going to outdraw the final two Nolan Bat-features at the box office. It will be interesting to see if it can topple the March record of The Hunger Games, but don’t be surprised if it falls short – or if it falls a little short of Deadpool’s $147 million debut. To be less doom and gloom, though, a disappointing performance from BvS won’t doom the DC movie universe – if Suicide Squad, which is already a done deal (they can’t un-make the movie) is able to drum up a lot of interest (SS has wisely dropped some of its grimdark look with that second trailer) then DC should be able to surge forward with their other projects, and if people take to specific elements of this film (say, if everyone really likes Batfleck or Gadot’s Wonder Woman), DC can adjust accordingly to focus on those characters over their controversial Superman.

    • iPerson says:

      Two of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, Dark of the Moon (2011) and Age of Extinction (2014) grossed more worldwide than The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, so anything is possible. It all depends on how well it does in foreign markets.

      • Don't Mind Me Now says:

        Overseas is a different story, to be sure. Each of the Nolan Batman movies improved on the previous entry substantially overseas – TDK improved on BB by over $300 million, and TDKR added almost $170 million on to TDK. Superman also improved, with Man of Steel doubling the overseas take of Superman Returns (though inflation is obviously a factor there, given the 6-year gap). With the massive expansion of overseas markets, it would be shocking if BvS wasn’t able to top the overseas take of TDKR. The bigger question is how the global take of BvS will compare to TDK(R), and if overseas can compensate for domestic shortcomings; my personal estimate is that BvS will wrap up about even with TDKR globally (about $100-$150 million less in North America but about $100-$150 million more in the overseas market). This would obviously be less than Warner is hoping for, but as long as the film crosses the $1 billion mark globally, the studio can save face with most media outlets and press on with their DC projects.

  4. Bobbi says:

    It’s Batman and Superman, for cryin’ out loud, so OF COURSE I’m gonna go see it… Cuz it’s THEM!! Might as well throw in Tarzan as well… Cuz it’s gonna be Tarzan for cryin’ out loud!!😉

  5. LOL says:

    America will adore crap as usual this weekend.

  6. BillUSA says:

    If I wasn’t so much of a fan of “Batman”, I’d let my disdain for Ben Affleck the actor and Ben Affleck the person prevent me from seeing the film

    • MyPompousBehind says:

      Yeah, those filthy people, they should have not live. They spreading immorality and filth for all mankind. Down with this kind of people, only the self righteous and clean and honest persons like me and BillUSA. We need to cast away disdainful peoples.

    • Tomahawk Jones says:

      And that’s how the terrorists win.

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