Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice

Bad reviews, but a box-office hit

A video of Ben Affleck (far left, with Henry Cavill) reacting to bad reviews during an interview has gone viral.
A video of Ben Affleck (far left, with Henry Cavill) reacting to bad reviews during an interview has gone viral.PHOTO: YOUTUBE

LOS ANGELES • As a box-office megadraw, Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice more than did its job. It took in an estimated US$170.1 million (S$233.3 million) in North America and an additional US$254 million in simultaneous release overseas, including S$4.57 million in Singapore.

But as a measure of the creative capabilities of a studio betting its future on a string of similar super- hero movies?

Most critics eviscerated the Warner Bros film, which was directed by Zack Snyder, and audiences gave it a soft B grade in CinemaScore exit polls.

It was one of the largest rollouts in Hollywood history: Warner, which spent about US$400 million to make and market the movie, booked it onto roughly 50,000 screens in 67 countries, including 138 in Singapore.

Domestic ticket sales, fuelled by higher-priced Imax, premium large-format theatres and RealD 3-D screenings, set a record for a March release, among others.

The real test may lie ahead.

Financial success will depend on repeat visits by fans in the weeks ahead and attendance by older moviegoers, who tend to skip the initial hoopla.

Analysts estimate that the movie will need to take in more than US$800 million worldwide to break even, after accounting for revenue splits with theatres. (Boding well for Warner: Dawn Of Justice faces light competition over the next two weekends.)

Questions also remain about Warner's "cinematic universe" of 10 interconnected superhero movies.

Snyder's bleak Dawn Of Justice was designed as the creative foundation for a multi-billion-dollar string of films featuring the likes of Wonder Woman and Aquaman.

He is set to begin filming a two-part Justice League in the coming weeks.

Over the weekend, James Wan, who is directing Aquaman, told attendees at a comic book convention that his film would not forget to have fun in response to a question about Snyder's dark aesthetic.

Chatter around the unusually negative reviews, which were 29 per cent positive, according to rottentomatoes.com, may have actually helped Dawn Of Justice, as moviegoers set out to see what the ruckus was about.

A number of review-based Internet memes popped up last week, with one video of a sad-looking Ben Affleck, who played Batman, viewed about 14 million times since its posting last Thursday.

Rival studios gave credit to Warner, which has struggled at the box office during the past two years, for selecting what turned out to be a perfect release date for Dawn Of Justice.

Movie industry conventional wisdom holds that superhero movies do best in the summer. But Warner - trying to get ahead of Marvel's coming Captain America: Civil War - took a risk on the Easter holiday.

NEW YORK TIMES

•Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice is screening at cinemas.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2016, with the headline 'Bad reviews, but a box-office hit'. Print Edition | Subscribe