Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice arrived to scathing reviews despite a strong opening weekend in its Week 1 box office as audiences flocked to theaters to see the two most popular comic book characters of all time duke it out.
DC Comics and Warner Bros. were able to take momentary solace in the $424 million global haul, but since then, the film, which received a 29 percent approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes, has taken a free fall.
Box Office Mojo reports that its Friday numbers are down 81 percent (71.5 percent if you remove the $27.5 million Thursday preview screenings tallied in last week’s totals).
That’s just in the United States, too. In China, where American imports typically have a longer shelf life, Batman V Superman is down a staggering 86 percent.
While the film is still going to make money thanks to a large opening, the tumble is a clear indicator director Zack Snyder’s superhero epic is being rejected by audiences as well as critics.
While Marvel films like Deadpool, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and pretty much everything Avengers-related have shown an ability to bring in box office and please critics, DC has struggled with misfires like The Green Lantern and Man of Steel.
The critically maligned Lantern is in a virtual dead heat with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice as far as critics are concerned, closing at 26 percent approval.
Man of Steel, another Zack Snyder film and the one that started this whole Justice League film project, does somewhat better but still falls into the site’s “Rotten” category with 56 percent.
Perhaps most embarrassing for DC and Time Warner is that the Ben Affleck Daredevil movie from several years ago — a movie Affleck said in a recent interview would influence him to picket Batman V Superman if the new film turned out worse than the old — beats Dawn of Justice with a 44 percent approval rating from critics.
The critical rejection has caused some fans of the film to speculate that there is a coordinated attack on Batman V Superman because “haters” have a Marvel bias.
This argument does not account for the fact that all three Christopher Nolan Batman films did extremely well with critics and audiences.
Furthermore, Batman V Superman is down close to 30 percent with the Rotten Tomatoes community, falling from 98 percent in its opening weekend to 71 percent as of Saturday (April 2).
CinemaScore users ranked it in a tie with Halle Berry’s oft-bashed Catwoman effort from 2004.
What all of this means for final weekend tallies will not be clear until Sunday, but analysts have revised expectations downward.
The film’s shooting budget has been reported as $250 million, so the profitability of Batman V Superman was never in question, but the steep drop has outpaced other superhero films by quite a bit.
In fact, Forbes‘ Rob Cain reports that it set its first negative record in its opening weekend with the worst Friday to Sunday drop for a superhero film.
Whether this means Warner Bros. will want to continue on the Snyder-led path for the Justice League films and the related DC Extended Movie Universe slate remains to be seen.
With analysts noting that Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice would need to hit $1 billion globally in order to be considered a success, the fast burn of this film is putting that tally more in question.
The film hasn’t beaten Deadpool yet, which surprised industry expectations with a $747 million worldwide take on a budget about one-fifth the size of Snyder’s (and while wearing the yolk of an R-rating).
It’s almost certain that Batman V Superman will get there, but $800 million is looking like its ceiling and for a film that had so much buzz and marketability behind it, that could be concerning for a company that has tied at least 10 additional films to the influence of Snyder.
[Image via Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice screen grab]