BATMAN V SUPERMAN Takes Steep Drop In 2nd Weekend; Falls 69%

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UPDATE: Batman V Superman’s 10-day worldwide total is $683 million, a positive figure in light of the North American decline. The asterisk paragraph (*) includes information related to this global tally. Also, the Sunday estimate of a 68% drop was adjusted after final numbers came in Monday. The drop was officially 69%, making nearly $7 million less than first estimated.

Warner Bros. can officially start worrying about the viability of its Zack Snyder led DC Universe.

After a blockbuster opening that broached or broke several box office records, Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice took a steep dive in its second weekend, falling 69% from its $166 million debut to a so-so $51.8 million. Its 10-day total now stands at $260.9 million. Other blockbusters have had steeper declines; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 plummeted by 72%, and the last two Twilight films both fell by 70%, but those movies were at the end of their franchise runs and likely suffered from some fatigue. BvS, however, is supposed to be kicking off a franchise – nay, a universe – not ending it.

Also particularly distressing to the studio is that BvS‘s competition in the marketplace is far weaker than what it would’ve faced as a summer release. Some suggest that its competition is school rather than other blockbusters, so perhaps the whole dynamic is a wash, but that would only account for declining weekday numbers.

After the opening weekend lament that critical pans don’t matter for movies like this, such conventional wisdom may begin to readjust. Yes, nothing is going to stop people from turning out in droves when a tentpole first drops, but there’s little question that audiences went into viewing BvS already predisposed into thinking it was going to be bad. When we see drop-offs like this, they are – at least in part – self-fulfilling movie critic prophesies.

Especially odd: in the realm of social media, Batman V Superman actually defied the brutal critical drubbing. Word of mouth over outlets like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram was largely upbeat. 57% of the Twitter conversation has been positive while less than 10% of tweets are negative (with the rest falling into a neutral zone). These percentages are right in line with recent hits Furious 7 and Avengers: Age Of Ultron.

Another fascinating stat: online ticket retailer Fandango reports that repeat ticket sales are 30% higher than any other typical blockbuster. So while many viewers may be one-and-done, and others are avoiding the tentpole altogether due to bad reviews, the strong diehard base is intrigued enough by what they’ve seen that they’re returning for multiple visits.

And yet…

* Yes, Batman V Superman is still ahead of DC’s previous chapter Man Of Steel after 10 days, but its trajectory of decline is similar. BvS will certainly finish ahead of Man Of Steel‘s lackluster domestic total of $291 million, but if its North American take only lands somewhere in the low-to-mid $300 million range, that’s a problem. Its saving grace may be its global haul. Now at $683 million, BvS has already passed Man Of Steel‘s $668 million worldwide final. Reaching $1 billion may be a stretch (and anything short of that would still likely cause some anxiety for WB), but the certainty of passing at least $700 million globally will assuage some of WB’s concerns about the sharp downward domestic turn.

In fact, the confidence boost that Warners and DC may need could be just a few short months away. That’s when the highly anticipated Suicide Squad (written and directed by David Ayers, not Zack Snyder) hits theaters, in August. Fans have been so thrilled by the 2nd trailer that WB has even sanctioned reshoots to give fans more of the humor they’ve been gushing about. Also promising is the stand alone Wonder Woman movie (also not steered by Snyder) scheduled to follow next year. Gal Gadot‘s supporting turn in Batman V Superman as the Amazonian superhero has been praised as one of BvS‘s bright spots.

But even if those movies deliver, Zack Snyder’s first official Justice League film is still scheduled to start shooting this month. It would be a dramatic (and unlikely) step for WB to pull the plug on that at this point but, if they do, then it will solidify just how worrisome these domestic numbers are. It could also portend a lengthy pause on the timing of the first full Justice League movie, as WB would likely put a stand alone Batman movie – directed by and starring Ben Affleck (he’s reportedly already written a script) – on a fast track.

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