Batman v Superman: Dawn of a Troubled Franchise
By John Hamann
March 27, 2016
Critics warned us about Batman v Superman, but like that need to look at a car accident as you drive by, we went anyway.
Yes, with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, moviegoers decided to ignore the critics and attend the blockbuster regardless of the drubbing it is receiving. We showed up in droves, setting records along the way. It's a hit, so Warner Bros should be happy, right? The box office is strong both domestically and abroad; investors will probably recover their investment, so the hurdle is cleared, right? With Batman v Superman, the battle has likely been won financially (is a tie as good as a win?), but the WB/DC war against Disney/Marvel takes a serious hit, as the DC world (Universe is still a bit of a stretch) has failed to give us an Iron Man, Avengers, or even an X-Men level of good-movie yet, and that is going to bite them in the ass pretty soon.
Eight days before Man of Steel opened in June 2013, and four days before its review embargo lifted, the $225 million Zach Snyder blockbuster was tracking at a $100 million opening weekend. When reviews for Man of Steel hit the streets, they were mixed, some of the harsh variety, and it was at the 57% fresh mark over the opening frame. RottenTomatoes has their "Top Critics" - those who would have written reviews prior to or at opening, are split at 50%, a number that isn't good enough for a financially risky $225 million franchise starter. In the end, though, Man of Steel beat the tracking estimate because moviegoers ignored reviews, allowing it to debut at $116 million. This scenario repeated itself this weekend, as Batman v Superman beat tracking estimates and reviews to break some records, but as stated above, this performance doesn't put the franchise in a winning position.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice got started on Thursday night in a very big way, as it earned a simply massive $27.7 million from Thursday previews, a number likely driven even higher than usual by advanced ticket sales. That number edges out Avengers: Age of Ultron's Thursday at $27.6 million and shows that DC is ready to play with the big boys; however, the Good Friday holiday on Friday likely influenced the Thursday to the upside. The Friday number came in a powerful $82 million, the fourth biggest opening day of all time, edging out Jurassic World's first day at $81.95 million (it earned $18.5 million from previews). That means that Dawn of Justice had a "true" Friday of $54.3 million, whereas Jurassic World had a "true" Friday of $63.5 million. Similarly, the Avengers had a "true" Friday of $62.1 million, following $18.7 million from previews.
Furious 7, last year's Easter record breaker, earned $15.8 million from previews and had a combined first Friday of $67.4 million, for a "true" Friday of $51.6 million, only about 5% less than Dawn of Justice. This tell me that the further we get into the weekend, the less those advance ticket sales come in to play, and the significance of those questionable reviews (and presumed lack of repeat visits) increases. Batman v Superman was a full balloon on Thursday night, but has a pinhole leak called “it isn't very good.”