Weekend Forecast: Can ‘Dawn of Justice’ Capture March Record?

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Warner Brothers is releasing one of its biggest releases of all time, but things aren’t going quite as planned.

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, the follow up to 2013’s Man of Steel and the official kickoff to the DC Cinematic Universe has seen some very polarizing early reactions, leading some to believe it may not be the worldwide phenomenon it was originally expected to be.

It all started over a year ago, when both this film and the upcoming Captain America: Civil War were both slated to be released on May 6th. While Dawn of Justice did take the spot first, it’s kind of hard to think DC couldn’t have seen that one coming, as Marvel has released a film every first weekend of may since Spider-Man 3 back in 2007, almost all of which have seen very strong results. So, knowing that they had more to potentially lose in this scenario, WB moved Dawn of Justice back up to the final weekend of March. That’s actually not an awful plan, by the way; The Hunger Games opened on the same weekend back in 2012 to the tune of $152.5M, while all of its successors opened the weekend before Thanksgiving. Regardless, a film with this much hype could be released at just about any time of the year and it will do fine.

Releasing at such a typically quiet time might actually give Batman V Superman a better shot at Captain America: Civil War, as it has virtually no competition coming up. The only blockbuster film lately was Deadpool, which at this point is all but done its theatrical run, and the next large film that could do damage is The Jungle Book, slated for release on April 15th. That’s a full three weekends to do plenty of business, which is perfectly fine given how front loaded the film is shaping up to be.

Unfortunately, it’s not all good news. The film has received a terrible 32% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a massive leak of spoilers from early showings as well as very mixed responses from fans who saw early screenings is sure to do at least a tiny bit of damage to its opening weekend, but the real trouble is in its long term potential. That kind of critical response is fairly unprecedented for a film of this size, especially one that’s basically relying on hitting $1B worldwide in order to kickoff a slew of films in its upcoming universe.

Regardless of where you stand on the excitement rating, its impossible to say that the Rotten Tomatoes score and mixed responses hasn’t given it any bad buzz. Some on the fence fans might choose to see the film on demand or through Blu-ray rather than seeing it on the big screen.

So let’s break this down. Man of Steel had a fairly strange opening pattern back in 2013 before the 6-7pm early showings were really a ‘thing’, but there were special tickets sold at Walmart to get the film a bit higher in its opening weekend. When adjusted for inflation, Man of Steel did a little over $130M by Sunday, a number that Batman V Superman really needs to be able to cross. It did have much harder second weekend competition, with Monsters University and World War Z released just one week after it, whereas all Dawn of Justice has to worry about is God’s Not Dead 2 and supposedly Collide, though the latter has yet to even receive a poster or trailer, so don’t be surprised when it goes TBD within the next few days.

Also opening is My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, arriving a timely 14 years after its predecessor. Believe it or not, the original Greek Wedding did $360M domestically with inflation, making it the highest grossing film ever to not hit 1st place. However, it didn’t exactly scream “sequel”, and the older audience for the film probably isn’t in huge demand for this film. Look for it to do low teens at best, though it could offer decent counter-programming a la Sisters back in December.

In limited release, Midnight Special is getting a small expansion after a very strong start in 5 theaters last weekend, while I Saw the Light will be lucky to land with more than a whimper.

Bar for Success

The current March opening record is The Hunger Games with $152.5M, which is right in line with the 4 day start of Deadpool from earlier this year. Given that its three of the most famous superheroes of all time on screen together for the first time ever, this really needs to be doing $160M+ to avoid any bad press.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is fine at $10M.

 

Weekend Predictions

  1. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice – $140M
  2. Zootopia – $24.5M
  3. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 – $11.5M
  4. The Divergent Series: Allegiant – $10.0M
  5. Miracles from Heaven – $9.5M
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