April 2, 2016

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: Holy Weekend 2 Slump, Batman! BvS Sags But Easily Takes DOA Weekend


The real world, in the form of terrible reviews and dim word of mouth, caught up with BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (DC/RatPac/Warners) on Friday.  Actually, the signs had been there since midweek, although Warners and its box office pets had obscured the fact for a few days by comparing the daily results to movies that didn’t fit, like pre-summer openings that didn’t have the benefit of Spring Break week.  Now, despite a 2d weekend set up in the most favorable way imaginable, with literally no new substantive competition,  the truth is out:  preliminary numbers at Deadline have BvS at $15.5-17M on Friday.  At best that’s a 79% drop from last Friday, and it could be as high as 81%.  (Note:  the big Thursday night that contributed to opening Friday is no excuse, since at this point virtually every major Hollywood opening starts on Thursday evening.)  That compares to the most frontloaded blockbuster openings ever, the 84% Friday-to-Friday drop for the final Harry Potter (which dropped 72% for its 2d full weekend), and the 75-77% plunges for 3 of the Twilight titles (which fell 68-70% for their 2d full weekends).

This sets BvS up for the kind of Weekend 2 drop usually associated with horror movies.  Assuming Friday settles at around $16M, BvS may fall to $51M for the weekend, a 69% plunge.  That would leave it at $260M by Sunday, and with what that would say about word of mouth, it could end up, at best, neck-and-neck with Deadpool at around $360M in the US–despite the fact that Deadpool cost about one-third as much to produce and considerably less to market.

None of this will make BvS a “flop,” technically.  We don’t know yet how it’s holding overseas, and it could still get to $850-900M worldwide, enough to give Warners a profit.  But BvS wasn’t made to earn back its investment, it was given almost unlimited funds and a perfect opening date to usher in a new mega-franchise that would play out for years.  The way to begin that isn’t with millions of dissatisfied audience members.

With the major studios hiding for the weekend, indies rushed forward to grab some limelight, but without a great deal of success.  GOD’S NOT DEAD 2 (Pure Flix) didn’t do much to prove its point:  it opened in triple the number of theatres as the first God, 2320 in all, yet with a $2.5M Friday it’s headed for a $7M weekend, which would be less than the $9.2M for the original’s start at 780.  MEET THE BLACKS (Freestyle) had a $1.1M Friday in 1014 theatres, on its way to a $2.5M weekend.

Some indies already in limited release tried wide expansions.   EYE IN THE SKY (Bleecker Street) fared best, widening to 1029 theatres for $1.2M on Friday and a possible $3.5M weekend.  HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS (Roadside) moved to 964 theatres for $700K on Friday and a $2.5M weekend.  I SAW THE LIGHT (Sony Classics) followed The Bronze as a spectacularly ill-advised expansion for its studio, with just $200K on Friday in 741 theatres and a weekend that may only get to $650K, a disastrous per-theatre average under $1000.

As noted, the rest of the box office was negligible.  ZOOTOPIA (Disney) continues to hold beautifully, down just 43% on its 5th Friday to $5.4M, and heading for a $20M weekend that keeps it on track for $300M in the US (it’s already at $721M worldwide).  MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2 (Gold Circle/Universal) isn’t showing any of the legs one would have hoped for from a film appealing to older women, down 56% from last Friday to $3.2M, and heading for a $11M weekend and perhaps $55-60M in the US.  MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN (Affirm/TriStar/Sony) is steady, down 36% to $2.1M on Friday, on its way to a $7M weekend and $65M in the US.  ALLEGIANT (Summit/Lionsgate) kept falling, down 51% Friday-to-Friday to $1.8M for a $6M weekend and $70M in the US.

MILES AHEAD (Sony Classics) started solidly at 4 NY/LA theatres and should have a $30K weekend per-theatre average, although that’s partly due to in-person Q&A appearances by director-star Don Cheadle.  Director Richard Linklater and the cast of EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! (Annapurna/Paramount) have been doing the in-person circuit too, but to less effect, with a 19-theatre opening that may give it a $15K weekend average.  MIDNIGHT SPECIAL (Warners) expanded mildly to 58 theatres, headed for a $8K weekend average.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."