It may have divided audiences and underwhelmed the critics but there is no denying that ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ has everybody talking. You only need to venture onto the IMBd forums to experience the battleground that fans have laid out across this film as people passionately defend or attack DC’s new and gritty universe, not always in the most civil manner. This extreme difference in opinion is not only coming between friends and family but also impacting on box office sales, as Dawn of Justice shows worrying signs of struggling in its second week.
The film got off to a perfect start, raking in $254 million internationally to become the most successful superhero movie opening of all time, and has continued to gross a total of $684 million as of the writing of this article. No matter what way you look at it, Batman v Superman has done exceptionally well at the box office, but could the tally have been higher? Figures show that Dawn of Justice has suffered a 69% drop in its second weekend in theatres, which matches ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ as the biggest decline for a superhero movie, and paints a big question mark over Batman v Superman’s ability to breach that all important $1 billion mark.
To put that number into perspective: ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ suffered a 59% decline in its follow up weekend last summer, with ‘Deadpool’ and ‘The Dark Knight’ being similarly affected in their second weekends, with a 57.4% and 53% drop respectively. Even if you look at Batman v Superman ticket sales in its successful debut weekend, there is a 58.6% drop from Friday to Sunday, a new record for the genre. For one of the biggest film releases of the last 10 years, such a severe decline in ticket sales should be a cause for concern for Warner Bros, especially in their desperation to rival Marvel’s own cinematic universe.
Batman v Superman’s box office decline can most likely be attributed to the overwhelming negative critical reaction, with a majority of critics complaining about the humourless tone, messy narrative and clumsy universe building, with the review embargo only being raised the day before release. The much maligned production and marketing couldn’t have helped the situation, with poorly edited trailers and controversial casting dampening some anticipation. This, coupled with bad word of mouth won’t have helped persuade the normal movie-going audience who want to be guaranteed quality for their hard earned cash.
Don’t get me wrong, Batman v Superman is going to be VERY successful but Warner Bros will always be looking to knock Marvel off their perch, and judging by these numbers, I don’t think Dawn of Justice is the film to do that. For me, I feel like everyone needs to experience these big event movies and form opinions of their own, bringing more voices into the discussion. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Dawn of Justice (you can read my full review here), but I still think that you can find a lot to love about Batman and Superman’s on-screen debut together, especially seen as you get to experience the best cinematic Batman to date.