Can something be both a gargantuan box-office success and also a disappointment, a hit and a miss? Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice is a paradoxical conundrum worthy of the Riddler or Mister Mxyzptlk: a blockbuster everyone agrees is a critic-proof smash, but also kind of a failure somehow.
The critically annihilated DC event movie easily retained the No. 1 position on the charts in its second weekend, climbing to about $261 million in domestic ticket sales and about $680 million worldwide—hardly chump change, in other words. But with a Friday-to-Sunday gross of “just” $52.3 million in the States, the film also experienced a steep 68.4-percent drop from its first weekend, which is about on par with the profit decline of last summer’s widely reviled Fantastic Four. And as plenty of analysts have pointed out, Batman V Superman had basically no competition this weekend, what with none of the major studios daring to open anything in its wake. Which it to say, there was nothing but BvS keeping people away from BvS. (Okay, so college basketball probably stole some business, too.)
Only in an age of inflated budgets and expectations could a movie this well-attended—it’ll probably soon surpass Deadpool for title of the year’s biggest hit so far—be considered anything less than an unqualified success story. Warner Bros. has a lot riding on this noisy, depressing title fight between a wantonly destructive Superman and a Batman who uses guns, get used to it wimps: In addition to the $250 million it’s already spent to let Zack Snyder debase these iconic characters, the studio has invested lots of money and time on their plan to build an MCU-style shared universe with the rest of the major DC heroes (and villains) gallery. Sure, people will go see a movie they’ve heard is bad if it features Superman and Batman. But will they do the same for some solo Cyborg vehicle? If Dawn Of Justice looks like a Bizarro-world combination of smash and flop, it’s because its big dip in admissions is a vision of bad things to come—the studio-executive equivalent of dreaming about Nazi Supermen and bug soldiers.
Holding strong at No. 2 with an additional $20 million, Zootopia continued to serve the needs of parents not interested in subjecting their children to a caped crusader who behaves like Brad Pitt’s character from Inglourious Basterds. Meanwhile, two smaller studios braved the waters of a wide release, each catering to different demographics: While the faith-based God’s Not Dead 2 ($8.1 million) failed to match the opening-weekend numbers of its predecessor, despite appearing in about twice as many theaters, Meet The Blacks ($4 million) did about as well as a half-baked Purge parody with little advertising could hope to do. Again, the difference between hit and flop can be difficult to determine.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.