Weekend Box Office Forecast for March 25-27, 2016
By Tim Briody
March 25, 2016

We've been rooting for these two crazy kids.

We head into Easter weekend with one of the most anticipated film events in years. Yes, of course, I’m talking about My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. (Just kidding.)

All right, let’s discuss Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The elevator pitch? Batman ventures out of Gotham City and heads to Metropolis, ostensibly to stop Superman, who he feels would become a major threat to the world if his power is not controlled. Stuff explodes. The end.

As time has gone on and more details have come out, the film has become more than just “hey, it’s Batman and Superman! In the same movie!” It’s a direct sequel to 2013’s Man of Steel, but what Dawn of Justice really is is DC’s attempt at The Avengers. As kind of given away by the second half of the title, the eventual result of the events in the film is the formation of the Justice League, a superhero group consisting of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg, plus some others that may have already had a movie made about them so we won’t mention them in this movie (coughTheGreenLanterncough).

As a sequel to Man of Steel, it brings back virtually everybody relevant to that movie, with Henry Cavill as Superman, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Diane Lane as Ma Kent and Laurence Fishburne as Perry White. Here’s where it gets interesting, or stupid depending on your point of view: Ben Affleck takes on the role of Batman, in a move that generated a tremendous amount of controversy when it was announced in 2013(!), with some portions of the internet declaring they wouldn’t even bother with the movie due to his presence.

In other important casting details, perennial Superman nemesis Lex Luthor is portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons takes on the role of Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred, and Gal Gadot, best known for a couple of the Fast & Furious movies, is set to become very famous as Wonder Woman. This is exceptionally notable because this is the first time the iconic female superhero will be portrayed in a live action movie. The second, of course, is a standalone Wonder Woman movie set for release next year. Zack Snyder, who also helmed Man of Steel, is your director, and is also penciled in for 2017’s Justice League movie, showing that DC has pretty much put all of their eggs in his basket, for better or for worse.

The teasers and trailers released over the last year have been the subject of much speculation, with key details gradually being revealed, such as the presence of other superheroes besides Batman and Superman. While the Wonder Woman reveal was meant to be a money shot, it’s hard to shake the feeling that they’ve given everything meaningful away. Man of Steel was met with a polarizing reception, and Dawn of Justice is pulling in even worse reviews, currently rating 31% Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus saying the story and characters are buried under a bunch of fighting and special effects, which definitely means it’s a Zack Snyder movie.

As the Marvel comic universe turns B and C-level players like Ant-Man ($180.2 million), Guardians of the Galaxy ($333.1 million) and Deadpool ($343.6 million and still counting) into ridiculous box office hits, the DC Extended Universe (their equivalent of the Marvel Cinematic Universe where “it’s all connected”) technically only began with Man of Steel, which did earn $291 million. The financial success of Dawn of Justice is of the utmost importance for Warner Bros. as in addition to two Justice League movies, each member has their own feature film in the works over the next four years. (They’ve also got Suicide Squad out later this summer, which at this point is also a question mark in terms of box office.) While it’s a lock for a tremendous opening weekend, the $250 million production budget (with a reported additional $150 million marketing budget) is looking mighty big right now. Domestically speaking, of course.

From the moment of its announcement and the casting of Affleck and Gadot, Dawn of Justice has essentially had a nearly three year marketing campaign so awareness is at a ridiculous high. What the negative reviews are going to do is scare off the small number of fence-sitters and hurt its long term prospects. While WB is probably banking on Dawn of Justice ruling the box office until the next superhero movie (May’s Captain America: Civil War), the negative response makes it more likely it will have run its course by that point rather than stay at the top. None of that matters too much for this weekend, however. It’s also Easter Sunday, which generally has a negative effect on Sunday but it’s hard to notice when you get to the blockbusters. Furious 7 still earned $147 million over Easter last year, for instance. Man of Steel did start with $116 million in June 2013, and while Batman v Superman will better that significantly, between the bad reviews and the previews giving away a little too much, there will still be the feeling that DC once again left money on the table, as Dawn of Justice comes in with a weekend of $153 million.

In all the years this site has been covering box office, there has never been anything like My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The comedy opened in April 2002 in just a couple of hundred theaters. Though old school word-of-mouth (in the pre-social media days even!), its box office held well over the next few months as it gradually added screens. It became a full blown cultural phenomenon through the summer of that year, culminating with three straight weeks as the #2 movie at the box office, spending a total of 18 weeks in the top ten, earning $241.4 million (on a budget of just $5 million), setting various records such as becoming the highest grossing film to never hit #1 and being the highest grossing romantic comedy of all time and causing a surge in sales of Windex. Nia Vardalos’s follow up projects in the years since have been…less successful (including a failed adaptation of the movie into a 2003 TV show that lasted just seven episodes), so she finally goes back to the well 14 years later with My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.

Toula (Vardalos) and Ian (John Corbett) are now dealing with life with a moody high schooler who is preparing for college while attempting to keep their spark alive. When a bombshell of a family secret is revealed, the entire Portokalos family has to plan another wedding of the big and fat variety and all the wacky Greek hijinks ensue. The sequel brings back pretty much everybody in the extended family for said wacky Greek hijinks. It’s some good counter programming for the fights and explosions in Batman v. Superman, but critical consensus is that it simply doesn’t recapture the magic of the first. Opening in more than 3,000 theaters (the first movie peaked at just over 2,000 screens), My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is looking at a weekend of $16 million.

Zootopia fell just 28% in its third weekend to $37.1 million to complete the threepeat and cross $200 million in the process. Easter Sunday is generally beneficial to family movies so it’s in line for another great hold despite ceding the top spot to Dawn of Justice. Give it another weekend of $26 million.

Finally, in the “We Told You So” department, The Divergent Series: Allegiant underperformed with just $29 million on the weekend, a 44% drop from the opening weekend of Insurgent. And there’s still one more movie to go! That sound you heard was Lionsgate drastically slashing the production budget. At this rate of the franchise’s decline, Ascendant will probably earn $29 million *total,* in what’s an outright audience rejection of the attempted cash grab. Both Divergent and Insurgent dropped over 50% in their second weekend, so look for Allegiant to do the same with about $13 million.