This weekend, following years of fan anticipation, audiences drove the new super hero event film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to a gargantuan global opening of $424M seizing total control of the box office around the world.
In North America, the Warner Bros. release bowed to an eye-popping $170.1M, according to estimates, marking the sixth largest opening weekend of all-time and the biggest ever in the entire January-to-April corridor. The PG-13 film averaged a stunning $40,099 from 4,242 locations including 3D and other formats with the 388 IMAX screens contributing $18M, or 11% of the gross.
It was the fourth biggest opening ever for a super hero film trailing the last three outings for Tony Stark. The largest overall domestic debuts of all-time are now Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($248M), Jurassic World ($208.8M), The Avengers ($207.4M), Avengers: Age of Ultron ($191.3M), Iron Man 3 ($174.1M), and BvS. Four of these six occurred in just the past 11 months as moviegoing remains red hot, as long as studios supplied exciting content.
The nation’s film critics were not big fans of Batman v Superman as reviews were quite negative. In fact, all five movies which opened bigger had good to great reviews so, Dawn of Justice scored the best opening in history for a critically-panned film. Fans ignored the reviews as they wanted to see the historic mash-up of Justice League heroes and judge for themselves. Audience feedback has been mixed, but is certainly better than where critics are at. The CinemaScore grade was a so-so B, although the largest groups (males and over-25s) both gave a B-.
The historic weekend began with Friday’s opening day tally of $82M (tied with Jurassic World for fourth all-time) which included Thursday night pre-shows beginning at 6:00pm of $27.7M. It was also the Good Friday school holiday allowing for more audiences to be available. Saturday dropped 38% to $50.9M while Warners is projecting Sunday to dip 27% to $37.2M. BvS will need to hit that projection in order to stay #6 among all-time opening weekends to edge out the $169.2M of the final Harry Potter film from 2011.
For the second year in a row, studios have used Easter to launch a major tentpole movie — the kind that would normally be programmed into summer. And they still generated summer-like business, proving audiences will show up in droves for the right film no matter what the calendar says. Last year, Universal launched Furious 7 to a $147.2M weekend with daily drops of 31% on Saturday and 29% on Sunday.
The studio will take this holiday back next year with Fast 8, Warner Bros. has already claimed 2018’s bunny weekend for Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, and Universal has planted its flag for 2019 with Fast 9 followed by Fast 10 taking Easter 2021. Currently, Cyborg is scheduled to open a week before Easter in 2020 but that could certainly get pushed a week. The holiday’s colossal money-making potential is too big to ignore.
Studio data on Justice showed that males, not surprisingly, made up 62% of the crowd while 60% was over 25. This is in line with most comic book movies. Another opening weekend record broken was for the DC super hero universe beating the $160.9M of The Dark Knight Rises. That final Chris Nolan film was 2D only and was affected by a shooting tragedy which hampered first weekend sales to some extent. Also, BvS delivered the best debut ever in the January-to-April corridor beating the $152.5M of 2012’s The Hunger Games which was also 2D only.
Word-of-mouth will play a major role for the road ahead. While some fans are disappointed, there are plenty who love the film and are recommending it. Plus this is the key movie setting up all the future DC comic book movies which will continue with next summer’s Wonder Woman and the first of two Justice League films which arrives in November 2017. Many schools and colleges have breaks this coming week so mid-week numbers are sure to be strong – another benefit to an Easter launch. Batman v Superman could finish its first full week of release in the $215-220M range and break $275M after its second weekend.
Warner Bros. gave Dawn of Justice a true worldwide launch with all major markets bowing this weekend including China and Japan which often open later. Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne amassed a stellar $254M from 66 markets making for a jaw-dropping $424.1M worldwide debut. Leading the way were China with $57.3M, the U.K. with $21.9M, and Mexico with $18.6M. IMAX saw $18M from 557 screens including $7M just from China. Super hero action sells well across the planet so crashing the $1 billion mark is likely for this behemoth putting its studio in a great position for the years ahead.
After a three-week run at number one, the bunny cop toon Zootopia remained strong over Easter weekend with an estimated $23.1M slipping 38%. Disney has banked an impressive $240.5M to date and looks on track to break $300M domestic with this one. Overseas markets rocked this holiday weekend with an estimated $42.5M pushing the international take to $456.2M and the worldwide tally to a stunning $696.7M. China smashed the double-century mark and stands at $201M as the biggest toon ever there. In Russia, Zootopia is now the second biggest Hollywood blockbuster of all-time after Avatar. The release in Disney-loving Japan is four weeks away and breaking $1 billion worldwide seems likely.
The comedy sequel My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 had a respectable opening in second place with an estimated $18.1M from 3,133 sites for a $5,782 average. The PG-13 film follows up on the 2002 sleeper hit which shocked the box office world with a leggy run for months that ended in a $241.4M final making it the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all-time. 14 years later and no film has been able to take that record away.
The sequel earned mostly bad reviews but Universal was able to attract a nice crowd in the first frame which was scheduled for Easter. Paying audiences were pleased, as Wedding 2 got a good A- grade from CinemaScore. Older white females were the core audience as studio data showed that the crowd was 76% female, 60% over 35, and 70% white. The studio dropped this on the calendar because of the holiday weekend and as counter-programming against the comic book superflick.
The Divergent Series: Allegiant took a nasty tumble in its second weekend falling a disturbing 67% to an estimated $9.5M for a domestic total of only $46.6M. That puts the third film in the franchise 46% below the pace of last year’s Insurgent. A $65-70M final may result with the final film still on the calendar for next year. International markets have contributed $71.8M for a global take of $118.4M.
The faith-based hit Miracles from Heaven held up well over Easter weekend grossing an estimated $9.5M, off 36% in its sophomore session. Sony has grossed $34.1M to date for this $13M production. The monster movie 10 Cloverfield Lane was off 52% to an estimated $6M for a new total of $56M for Paramount.
Despite the arrival of the super hero mash-up, Deadpool fared well, dropping just 38% in its seventh frame to an estimated $5M. Fox has amassed $349.5M domestically and has grossed another $396.5M overseas for a global gross of $746M. Rival R-rated actioner London Has Fallen took in an estimated $2.9M, off 57%, for a new sum of $55.6M for Focus.
A pair of critically acclaimed indies headlined by actresses around age 70 expanded and jumped into the top ten. The Sally Field pic Hello, My Name is Doris collected an estimated $1.7M from 488 locations for a $3,486 average and $3.3M cume for Roadside Attractions. Helen Mirren’s military thriller Eye in the Sky did well, averaging $8,138 from 123 sites for a weekend estimate of $1M. Bleecker Street has taken in $1.7M.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $247M which was up 14% from last year’s Easter weekend when Furious 7 opened at number one with $147.2M; and up 112% from 2014’s holiday when Captain America: The Winter Soldier spent its third week in the top spot with $25.6M.