When it opens on Friday, new superhero blockbuster “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is expected to put up some supersize numbers.
According to projections from BoxOffice.com based on advanced ticket sales, the Warner Bros. film is on track to bring in $159 million during its first three days of release. That would represent the biggest domestic presummer opening weekend ever.
Yet Warners needs more than a strong opening weekend from the film: Not only does it need to make back a reported $250 million budget and set the table for future releases featuring the same characters, “Batman v Superman” holds the promise of reviving the studio after a weak start to the year.
The film is the studio’s first tentpole of 2016 and comes as rival studios have already posted huge first-quarter domestic box-office receipts with standouts such as “Deadpool” from 20th Century Fox ($331 million as of March 15) and Walt Disney Co.’s “Zootopia” ($155 million).
Though it has released 13 films already this year – more than any other studio – Warners’ $71.8 million in domestic box-office places it eighth among studios, behind mini-major Lionsgate and NBCUniversal’s art films division Focus Features, according to industry website Box Office Mojo. Fox leads the box-office race with $722 million in total gross thus far.
“If the fanboys and fangirls give their thumbs up opening night, then that’s a sign the movie is well on its way to future success,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at the Sherman Oaks office of audience data firm comScore in Reston, Va.
The responsibility of pleasing the audience falls on the shoulders of Zack Snyder, who was tapped to produce and direct the film as well as two sequels and produce a spinoff “Wonder Woman” movie.
“Zack has a lot riding on this, and so does the studio,” Dergarabedian said.
They’re not the only ones. DC Comics, which owns the characters, and actor Ben Affleck – new to the iconic Batman role – are also on the hook if the movie’s a flop.
“There’s a huge amount of social conversation going on about the movie and the closer it gets to the release, the more people are talking about it,” Dergarabedian added. “Of course, there are always going to be detractors.”
Despite that pressure, Snyder said there is no guaranteed formula for making a high-quality film that also makes big money.
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