DC Comics and recent box office laggard Warner Bros. delivered much-needed super power numbers as “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” amassed $82 million on its first day (with Thursday evening shows marking one third of the total).
This puts “BvS” as the fourth best opening gross ever. Impressively, this is two-thirds of the current-record holder — the highly anticipated “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” And “BvS” soared passed “Deadpool,” which stunned the industry with its $47 million debut last month.
Even more impressive is this number: $111 million for the whole Top Ten, an eye-opener on its own. But here’s a surprise. This is the second biggest total ever (unadjusted) for a single day, dwarfed only by December 18 last year, when “Force Awakens” debuted. That’s 82% as good as that phenomenal day. Aided by a semi-holiday, the rest of the field, led by “Zootopia” (Buena Vista) and a respectable opening for “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” (Universal) totaled nearly double what the rest of the field tallied against “Force.”
“BvS” becomes another example of increasingly selective moviegoers being drawn in by the same combination that has elevated other breakout smashes in recent months. The “Batman” and “Superman” franchises have been booted and rebooted by Warners over the decades. Christopher Nolan’s Gotham entries set a high benchmark. But pitting the two iconic figures against each other (and putting Wonder Woman on the big screen for the first time since she was created 75 years ago) created that needed sense of freshness and something different that boosted “Force Awakens,” “Deadpool” and “Zootopia.”
But more impressive for “BvS” is it comes despite reviews far below the others’ favorable ratings. Among films featuring the two iconic characters these reviews were more in the range of the poorly received “Batman and Robin” and “Superman 3” and “4.” None of this mattered, at least for the initial audience.
The one worrisome rating is the B Cinemascore, normally suggesting muted enthusiasm and more mixed word of mouth. Results over the rest of the weekend will determine how front-loaded the response is. With a $250 million-plus budget and international marketing cost more than half again as high, Warners has to hope the increased interest that normally comes with this strong an opening helps overcome any possible mixed response.
Kids off from school propelled “Zootopia” (Buena Vista) to a healthy second place with $9.5 million (about the same as last Friday, which was good enough for #1 for the day then). That puts it as $227 million at the start of its fourth week.
How big is that? “Frozen” at the same point of its wide release had reached $170 million. “Zootopia” won’t top “Frozen”‘s $386 million (Christmas bounty pushed its numbers much higher), and doesn’t quite equal the $272 million reached by Pixar summer blockbuster “Inside Out.” But it will easily be the best pre-summer animated release ever. As for Friday’s number — it is double the “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip” opening day against “Force Awakens.”
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” took third with a healthy $7.2 million and promising A- Cinemascore. With its older skewing audience and likely better than average Saturday increase, the sequel to the sleeper 2002 indie hit should at least equal its initial $18 million pre-marketing budget by Sunday, Universal similarly counter-programmed “Sisters” against “Force Awakens” and came away with just under $5 million (which with holiday play ended up with a six times multiple of opening weekend). That’s a solid start and another smart date choice from Universal.
It’s a big drop in numbers for the rest of the Top Ten. The big ouch goes to “The Divergent Series: Allegiant” (Lionsgate) which dropped 69% for fourth place with just over $3.6 million. And that’s from a disappointing opening. Not to pile on, but “Insurgent” last year fell less despite not having the benefit of Good Friday (a week later in 2015). This entry is likely to limp along to not much more than $75 million at best.
Sony’s faith-based “Miracles from Heaven,” in fifth with $3.3 million, dropped less than a quarter and could with Easter sneak ahead of “Allegiant” for the weekend. “10 Cloverfield Lane” (Paramount) placed sixth at just over $2 million, doubling its first three days, something “Cloverfield” needed its full run to achieve. “Deadpool” (20th Century Fox) added $1.7 million to its impressive haul for seventh. “London Has Fallen” (Focus) took eighth at just under a million. In only 488 theaters, “Hello, My Name Is Doris” (Roadside Attractions) placed ninth with $515,000, while “Risen,” Sony’s second current faith-based film came in tenth with $315,000.
Complete weekend estimates and more analysis Sunday in “Top Ten Takeaways.”