DC Comics has been living with a bit of an inferiority complex when it comes to their on-screen exploits. The company unquestionably owns two of the most iconic characters in the history of comic books, and putting them together in a film should have been a slam dunk.
Predictably, opening weekend box office numbers were high. People were going to watch Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice for the oddity of seeing the two most recognizable superheroes duke it out in a big-budget production.
It was a movie you could have made money with if you let a third grader direct it. So that’s just what DC Comics did. They hired director Zack Snyder, whose storytelling abilities are so pedestrian and ludicrous he makes Ed Wood look competent.
Thus far, DC Comics and Warner have nothing to complain about. They’ve made more than $424 million globally during the long weekend, and if the cost to make and promote the film were limited to the $250 million that Box Office Mojo is reporting, then they would definitely have a hit on their hands.
Here’s the thing about that figure, though.
No one knows what it takes to market a film to 66 foreign markets and within the U.S. BOM‘s numbers are generally confined to what it costs to pay cast and crew, shoot the feature, and edit it into coherency.
Some analysts have speculated that Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will have to make at least $1 billion for DC Comics and Warner to be considered a success. Even if it’s true that the film has already turned a profit — it probably has — it will be hard to call it anything but disappointing if it fails to beat the sleeper hit Deadpool.
That lesser known character from rival company Marvel Comics shouldn’t have grossed three-quarters of a billion dollars, especially when you consider that it was Rated R, thus eliminating the under-17 crowd, and shot on a budget about a fifth the size of Snyder’s overblown epic.
If BvS has the staying power to get to $1 billion, audiences will know it in the second and third weekends. Should there be a huge drop (70 to 80 percent) next week as anticipated, given the 29 percent “Rotten” rating it has received out of 265 professional reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, then it may still beat Deadpool, but it will not get to the magic $1 billion mark.
While DC Comics fans have embraced the film a bit more than anyone else, even they have failed to show an outpouring of support when it comes to their actual thoughts on the film.
The Rotten Tomatoes community has rated it a C- (at 73 percent), while CinemaScore respondents gave it the same rating they gave to critical dud Catwoman and the much-maligned Green Lantern, largely considered two of the worst superhero films of all time.
Still, Batman V Superman has its supporters, and they will defend the film to the death. To prove it, they have said some pretty outlandish things this week. Here is the most ridiculous.
Marvel and Disney are paying reviewers to say bad things about the film.
Why it’s ridiculous: 265 professional film critics, 29 percent approval rating, and some of the reviews marked as “Fresh,” such as this one from Ivan Belmont of Konexion, aren’t exactly glowing.
“This film has many flaws, rubbish villains, exaggerated visual effects, many gaps in its story, but has enough achievements to become something worth seeing.”
Again, that’s a good review. Also, there is this one from Roger Tennis of CinemaClips.
“The flawed ‘Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice’ is at least interesting enough to keep dusk from falling on the Justice League.”
This is essentially a ridiculous statement that has been oft-repeated on movie message boards because Marvel needs DC Comics to be successful in order to keep being successful themselves.
A rising tide raises all ships.
If DC Comics starts churning out stupid movie after stupid movie, then general audiences will start to mix Marvel’s product up with that of their competitor. That’s how whole genres of film implode on themselves.
Competition is a good thing. Look at the so-called “Monday Night Wars” of professional wrestling. When WWE and WCW were competing with one another, they were drawing massive TV ratings.
An example: On July 26, 1999, Raw won the night with a 7.1 rating to then-deteriorating WCW’s 3.4. Now that WWE is the only show in town, they’ve crashed to a 1.4 as of last Monday night.
They basically own 100 percent market share now compared to around 68 percent in 1999, but they are making a lot less money.
That’s how competition works, folks. Marvel doesn’t want DC Comics to fail. They just don’t want it to do better than they do. And with the critic reaction and now the audience reaction, there is no danger of that.
Do you think DC Comics should be concerned in spite of this week’s box office opening? Sound off in the comments section.
[Image via Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice/Warner Bros.]