Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is already a critical failure, with the film plumbing the depths of the 30-percent range as of Thursday night (31 percent on 196 professional reviews, according to Rotten Tomatoes).
Only time will tell if it proves to be a box office failure as well. If it does, industry analysts will not have to wait long.
There have been some rumors that it will have to hit the $1 billion mark just to break even.
With all the anticipation behind Batman V Superman, it will almost certainly pull in a few hundred million dollars worldwide in its first weekend, but the second week drop will be the ultimate indicator as to whether it can meet its goal.
If, for instance, it were to earn $400 million worldwide in its first weekend and experience a 70 percent drop in its second (likely with all the negative press), then it would take just $520 million into the less lucrative subsequent weekends.
That would virtually guarantee that Batman V Superman would fail to hit $1 billion.
Considering that Deadpool, a lesser known Marvel character, has gotten three-quarters of the way there on a much smaller budget, the comparison would be an undoubtedly humiliating one for Warner and DC.
Something else: Batman V Superman failing to hit the $1 billion mark would not bode well for the Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman films that are already in the can.
As the New York Post pointed out in a recent analysis, it is very likely that DC will reconsider its position on its ambitious movie franchise, especially the decision to let Zack Snyder helm Justice League for 2017.
DC has already stumbled with films like Man of Steel and Green Lantern in the past. Meanwhile, their adversaries at Marvel make massive blockbusters out of lesser known characters.
It’s been a humiliating time for the company, and it is unlikely that they complete their 10-film slate between now and 2020 if the next two weekends play out the way that many analysts are now foreseeing.
That said, here are three courses of action that DC and Warner can take in a worst-case scenario for Batman V Superman.
1. Release ‘Suicide Squad’ and ‘Wonder Woman’ because they’re already finished.
While the first previews for Suicide Squad don’t look very promising, there hasn’t been enough of Wonder Woman seen to expect the same misfires of Suicide Squad and Batman V Superman.
There is an outside chance that Wonder Woman could ignite a successful franchise, but with Zack Snyder making a significant early impact on the creative process across the entire DC Extended Movie Universe, it already has a strike or two against it.
Still, there is little point in shelving the films, since they’re already done.
2. Cancel the rest of the DC Extended Movie Universe and retool.
While there would be some minor disappointment in seeing the 10-film slate canceled (outside of Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman), it would be even more crushing to see each film caught in a cycle of diminishing returns until the entire thing implodes.
3. Go back to what worked.
The one bright spot that DC and Warner have experienced from their film universe is the Christopher Nolan-directed trilogy that began with Batman Begins and carried through with The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.
While TDKR suffered from some delusions of grandeur, it was still largely well-received and left fans with the promise of a new franchise that never developed.
DC could go back to the end of that film and build up a new Batman, then spin the rest of the characters off into better-planned standalone films from there.
It’s improbable at this point, but it may be one of their only remaining options if Batman V Superman crashes as hard as what is now expected.
But what do you think, readers?
How does DC save its movie universe in the shadow of Batman V Superman? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Image via Batman V Superman still]