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Top 10 Takeaways: ‘Batman v Superman’ Drops Hard But Dominates, As Holdovers Thrive

Top 10 Takeaways: 'Batman v Superman' Drops Hard But Dominates, As Holdovers Thrive

In a weekend with only two new releases, both aiming at niche rather than all-quadrant audiences, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”‘s $52.4 million gross marked a steep 68% fall from its record-setting $166-million opening frame. That’s at the high end (but no record) for the second weekend fall for a monster opener. “Dawn of Justice”‘s weekend total came to 43% of the entire Top Ten total of $121 million. 

The remaining numbers were led by two strong holdovers. Again, Disney’s breakout animated hit “Zootopia” took a strong second place and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” built on its surprisingly robust opening with a modest drop. They led the two new films, “God’s Not Dead 2” and softer performer “Meet the Blacks.”

Production company Pureflix took over distribution chores from Freestyle, which in 2014 opened “God’s Not Dead 2” to better numbers. This weekend Freestyle placed horror spoof “Meet the Blacks” in just over 1,000 theaters, mostly centered in African-American population centers. Star Mike Epps was among the leads of the recent “50 Shades of Black,” a parody that only managed a lackluster $12 million in its full run for Open Road. “Meet the Blacks” took eighth place in a tightly bunched group, well ahead of “Shades,” which only managed $5.9 million in double the theaters, so this is hardly a low-end result.

The Top Ten

1. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Warner Bros.) Week 2- Last weekend #1

$52,385,000 (-68%) in 4,256 theaters (+14); PTA (per theater average): $12,309; Cumulative: $261,548,000

2. Zootopia (Buena Vista) Week 5 – Last weekend #2

$20,000,000 (-17%) in 3,698 theaters (+28); PTA: $5,408; Cumulative: $275,939,000

3. My Big Fat Wedding 2 (Universal)  Week 2 – Last weekend #3

$11,130,000 (-38%) in 3,179 theaters (+46); PTA: $3,501; Cumulative: $36,494,000

4. God’s Not Dead 2 (Pureflix) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 21; Est. budget: $ (unknown)

$8,104,000 in 2,320 theaters; PTA: $3,350; Cumulative: $8,104,000

5. Miracles from Heaven (Sony)  Week 3 – Last weekend #4

$7,550,000 (-22%) in 3,155 theaters (+108); PTA: $2,393; Cumulative: $46,823,000

6. The Divergent Series: Allegiant (Lionsgate)  Week 3 – Last weekend #5

$5,725,000 (-39%) in 3,018 theaters (-722); PTA: $1,897; Cumulative: $56,385,000

7. 10 Cloverfield Lane (Paramount)  Week 4 – Last weekend #6

$4,750,000 (-20%) in 2,511 theaters (-291); PTA: $1,892; Cumulative: $63,563,000

8. Meet the Blacks (Freestyle)  NEW – Cinemascore:; Est. budget: $

$4,086,000 in 1,014 theaters; PTA: $4,026; Cumulative: $4,086,000

9. Eye in the Sky (Bleecker Street) Week 4 – Last weekend #11

$4,055,000 (+335%) in 1,029 theaters (+906); PTA: $3,941; Cumulative: $6,150,000

10. Deadpool (20th Century Fox) Week 7 – Last weekend #7

$3,500,000 (-28%) in 1,968 theaters (-368); PTA: $1,778; Cumulative: $355,109,000

 The Takeaways

A Decent Weekend, Despite “Batman v Superman” Deep Dive and Weak New Releases

For comparison’s sake, this weekend last year included Good Friday and Easter Sunday and the debut of “Furious 7.” Normally describing a weekend with a 44% drop (down $96 million) from the previous year would be laughable. In this case, a more apt comparison is 2015’s following weekend, which came in at $123 vs. $121 million this year. And due to relatively late release date changes, the other new offerings were modest, even with the steep (but hardly unprecedented) “BvS” drop. So the results overall are reasonable and in line with expectations.

The big boost came from a range of strong holds, which suggests that along with three soon to be $300-million-plus 2016 releases (unprecedented), multiple smash hits are encouraging a general growth in moviegoing, encouraged by strong initial response. Total year to date business is still up 12% from 2015 and far ahead of other recent years.

Is the “Batman v Superman” Drop That Severe?

With the elevated “Batman v Superman” opening, a huge drop was inevitable. And without the bump of holiday Good Friday to boost this normal Friday, as well as no Thursday previews ($27 million of last Friday’s total), even without substantial head-to-head debut competition, a three-day number as low as $50 million was possible. (The standard way to estimate a second weekend is to take the Thursday gross and multiply by 7; with $7.7 million that day, that would have meant $54 million, so it is right in the expected range, particularly without the boost of the holiday which helped last weekend’s totals.)

The first full week for “BvS” came in at a sensational $209 million. It’s a record (even adjusting for inflation) for a pre-May release. Though it benefited from some school vacations this week, not having summer or holiday playtime took it out of the top 20 all time full weeks (adjusted). Still, obviously a breathtaking week.

Within those numbers, though, lurked some minor signs of weakness. A fair comparison is last year’s Easter Weekend (one week later than 2016) release of “Furious 7.” Its initial three days grossed $147 million (with no 3D surcharges, about the same number of tickets sold). But take away the initial day’s total, and “Furious” actually grossed nearly the same as “BvS” the rest of week. Tuesday-Friday “BvS” fell short of “Furious,” for the same days, despite the fast start. (That film came in for a seven-day $192 million.) The trend actually continued this weekend – “Furious 7” did over $59 million in its second stanza, down only 62%, and $7 million better than “BvS.”

The record for a second weekend drop for a film opening to over $50 million belongs to last year’s “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which shed nearly 74% its second stanza. But other major hits also have dropped more than 70%, including “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” (which outgrossed “BvS” to open) as well as two of the “Twilight” films. So it is hardly a sign of mass rejection if it happens, but more a sign of a huge initial response settling down to at least a strong second weekend. Consider anything less than a 70% fall to be positive.

The domestic drop was matched by a slightly smaller one in foreign markets, with $85 million added. The worldwide total is now at $681 million. This should be able to reach the $800 million total theatrical haul suggested as necessary to break even theatrically, with higher still possible. But with a whole series of similar D.C. Comic entries ahead, most nearly as expensive, and the drop from the great opening worldwide, it tempers the enthusiasm generated by the first weekend’s results.

Why Did “God’s Not Dead 2” Fall Short?

Pureflix’ “God’s Not Dead 2” came in a disappointing fourth with $8.1 million in 2,419 theaters. That was below most estimates, and below the stunning $9.2 million for the first weekend of the initial film two years ago in only a third (780) as many theaters.. The 2014 smash set a high standard for the busy indie faith-based movie industry. It ended up with a $60 million total (more than fellow-opener “The Grand Budapest Hotel”) and took in a third more than either of the last two Best Picture Oscar winners. So a sequel was inevitable.

The core faith-based audience is not easy to nail down, but it does operate with some of the same ground rules at work for other current movies. This film – repeating the previously winning formula of presenting believers as victims in academic settings (in high school this time), with a vaguely familiar cast (Melissa Joan Hart, Pat Boone, Ernie Hudson and Jesse Metcalfe this time around) – was lacking the necessary originality-within-the-familiar for success.

Plus, the first “God” sparked an uptick in the already vital broader appeal and often studio-backed religious-themed films. At the moment, the more mainstream and expensively produced “Miracles from Heaven” is thriving (it did nearly as much business this weekend, its third). The polemical tone of the religious victim stories has a ready audience (the core believers showing up Friday night gave it an A Cinemascore), but it doesn’t seem to broaden out as much, at least the second time around. The first one went up 18% its second day. This one dropped 8%. 

There is no denying the amazing success of the predecessor, and low production costs (unreported, but likely higher than the $2 million last time) likely mean this still sees a profit, but future returns from the series seem less likely.


Other than “BvS,” the weekend saw mostly strong holds, even more impressive for a non-holiday weekend. The result was similar post-Easter weekend last year, which had only one new release (“The Longest Ride” took in $13 million). So even though the new films were lacking, overall business didn’t really suffer as well-liked current films added to their takes.

Best was “Zootopia,” down only 17% in its fifth weekend. By comparison, “Inside Out” fell 34% the same weekend last summer. Though it had a higher total ($306 million to $276 for “Zootopia”), at this point Disney’s homegrown animated film is going to come close to the Pixar smash. It should do at least 80% of what ”Frozen,” aided by double holiday playing time, amassed. This is a stunning result.

Next best, and a real sign of strong word of mouth, is the 20% drop for “10 Cloverfield Lane.” This now looks to more than triple its opening (rare for horror films, but seen also with the similarly inventive “The Visit” last summer) and could equal (unadjusted) the $80 million total for the first “Cloverfield” in 2008.

“Miracles from Heaven” is holding strong, off only 22% and likely to reach around $70 million off a $13 million budget. (“Cloverfield” came in only slightly higher.) For a second weekend, and with a lot of wider competition for its older audience— including “Eye in the Sky” and “Hello, My Name Is Doris,” which are both doing stellar business as they expand—“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2”  is also thriving, dropping only 38%, and cost under $20 million.

See Arthouse Audit for more on the specialty titles.

The market is showing a nice balance of product, with quite a few titles likely to make money. “Deadpool” dropped 29% late in its run and has a shot at ending up with a higher domestic gross than “BvS,” if it doesn’t get to $400 million and Fox’s Marvel entry heads past $375 million.

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