In a turn of events that every non-excitable comic book movie fan saw coming, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is starting to sputter two weeks into its theater run. Slash Film writes that Batman V Superman saw a record-breaking 81 percent Friday-to-Friday drop heading into its second weekend.
“Even though Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice raked in a huge amount of cash with a record-setting haul of $166 million, the second weekend box office was less impressive than anticipated.
“For its second weekend, the comic book battle landed $15.35 million at the box office, and that puts the full weekend estimates at about $51 million, which is less than the $58 million that was projected going into the weekend.”
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was a “front-loaded” release. That simply means it opened worldwide on the same day, allowing it to earn maximum money upfront. An alternative is to spread release dates (and earnings) over a period of days or weeks. Despite being panned within an inch of its life, the movie opened big.
A solid opening weekend was to be expected; lots of excitement and hype preceded the film. But a strong opening is just the beginning for a “tentpole” film like Batman V Superman. For maximum box office impact, a movie like that needs “legs.”
That’s a term used for movies that continue to make money over a period of weeks or months. Movies with strong legs may not necessarily have a record-breaking opening weekend, but their strength is that they’re highly re-watchable in theaters or good “word of mouth” inspires more and more people to check them out as time passes. A film with weak legs either fails to pick up steam, or suffers a steep and irreversible decline in earnings, leading to a disappointing theater run.
Yes, Batman V Superman had a great first week, but now all signs are pointing to the kind of steep decline that suggests this movie will not have legs — and is now in danger of being a “front-loaded flop.”
That’s terrible news.
To get an idea of just how bad this is, compare Batman V Superman — a movie everyone initially thought could easily blow past a billion dollars — to Deadpool, an R-rated comic book movie no one expected to earn half as much as it did. Both Deadpool and Batman V Superman were released on dates with relatively little competition to worry about (the Zoolander sequel shared Deadpool‘s February 12 release date, but it was a major flop). However, Batman V Superman is failing to demonstrate that it has the legs that allowed Deadpool to be a runaway hit.
Interestingly enough, Deadpool boasts a superior reputation among movie critics despite being unapologetically true to the comic book source material. So much for that “movie reviewers don’t get comic books” theory. In any case, it’s starting to look like Batman V Superman will struggle to beat the “Merc with a Mouth’s” worldwide numbers. In fact, the Warner Bros. film is tracking behind Iron Man 3 when it should be on pace with the very first Iron Man instead.
Batman V Superman is a “DC Phase 1” movie that brings DC’s “holy trinity” (Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman) together for the first time. It should not be earning less money than the character Iron Man’s third trip to theaters. Nevermind the fact that it’s showing signs of hitting the brakes despite a noted lack of serious competition.
Any hopes of the global audience rescuing Batman V Superman as American moviegoers abandon it are also fading fast. Deadline reports that earnings in China have hit a wall as the American comic book movie comes up against competition from local films. Things weren’t much better in India where the film had a poor second week and reportedly won’t be back for a third week showing.
That’s the danger in front-loading a movie like this; if it fails to find legs all over the globe at the same time, there’s nothing else that can be done.
Cinema Blend wrote that Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice reportedly cost $410 million to make. To turn a respectable profit, it would have to earn double that amount. Although Batman V Superman blew past $500 million during its first week, a steep earnings drop could make it a struggle to limp across the finish line — if Batman V Superman even makes it to the other side.
[Image Via Warner Bros. Pictures]