The Warner superhero flick Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice lived up to its financial expectations this weekend at the North America box office, setting a new record in the process for biggest springtime opening of all time.
The $170 million debut for Dawn of Justice had to come as great news for Warner Brothers, who had a 2015 filled with few genuine hits (American Sniper, Mad Max: Fury Road, San Andreas) but plenty of duds (Pan, In the Heart of the Sea, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Jupiter Ascending). The opening for the Man of Steel sequel played in 4,242 theaters, which included higher-priced 3D and IMAX venues in the mix. The large screen format contributed a stellar $18 million -11% of the weekend gross- to the final total.
The daily breakdown for BvS was $82 million on Friday –which includes the $27.7 million earned from Thursday night previews-, $50.9 million on Saturday (-38%) and an estimated $37.2 million for Easter Sunday, a decrease of 27%. The majority of the audience was, not surprisingly, male. 62% of the opening weekend crowd was male, with 60% of those over the age of 25.
Dawn of Justice set a slew of records this weekend: biggest spring opening of all time, biggest March opening, biggest Easter weekend debut and biggest opening of all time for DC comics-based film. If estimates hold, BvS would become the biggest opener of all time for Warner Brothers, eclipsing the $169 million earned by the final Harry Potter film five years ago.
One aspect of Batman V Superman’s opening that didn’t set the world on fire were the reviews. Critics were more vicious to the $250 million Zack Snyder production than Lex Luthor tends to be toward the Man of Steel. Dawn of Justice earned a toxic 29% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, not quite as bad as the 11% approval rating for 1997’s Batman and Robin, Superman IV: The Quest For Peace’s 12% or Superman III’s 26%, but still embarrassing for such a big production.
Ticket buyers were a tad kinder toward the Henry Cavil/Ben Affleck matchup. Those polled by CinemaScore rated BvS a “B”, which indicates that word-of-mouth might be okay, but not spectacular. While critical notices didn’t seem to make any sort of dent in this weekend’s figures, feedback from fans could pose some problems in the long run. Even if the film flames out faster than a speeding bullet, a final haul around $325-350 is possible.
The film also had a spectacular debut overseas as it opened day-and-date with North America, earning $254 million since last Wednesday.
In other box office news, Disney’s Zootopia remained a popular viewing choice despite the arrival of the superhero smash up. Off 38%, the animated hit added another $23.1 million to its coffers, elevating its overall total to $241 million so far. The film also broke through the $700 million barrier in global sales this weekend.
In third place was My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 with $18.1 million from 3,133 theaters. The belated sequel to the 2004 sleeper hit was offered up by Universal Pictures as a bit of counterprogramming to the likes of Batman and Superman. Critics thought it sucked, giving the comedy a 24% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Like Dawn of Justice, the public was kinder to Greek Wedding 2. They gave the film an “A-“ rating on CinemaScore.
In fourth place was the spiritual drama Miracles from Heaven with an estimated $9.5 million from 3,047 theaters. Off 36%, the Jennifer Garner feature has earned a solid $34 million after ten days and is looking at a final haul between $55-60 million.
Rounding out the top five while taking a nasty 67% drop from its underwhelming debut was Lionsgate’s The Divergent Series: Allegiant. The panned sequel took a free fall from second to fifth place in its sophomore session with an estimated $9.5 million from 3,740 theaters. Allegiant has brought in a dismal $46 million after ten days, approximately $7 million less than what the previous installment brought in during its first three days. If it’s lucky enough, it may reach a final haul of $65 million, which would be roughly 50% lower than 2014’s Insurgent.
The remainder of the top ten was as follows:
- 10 Cloverfield Lane $6 million (-52%); $56 million
- Deadpool (Fox) $5 million (-38%); $349.5 million
- London Has Fallen (Focus) $2.9 million (-57%) $55.6 million
- Hello, My Name Is Doris (Roadside Attractions) $1.7 million; $3.2 million
- Eye In The Sky (BST) $1 million; $1.7 million
Next weekend sees the arrival of God’s Not Dead 2, which hopefully answers all of those unanswered questions from the first one and something called Meet the Blacks.