There are a lot of things wrong with the ambitious but flawed Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, and critics were happy to point out everything in rants about what would appear to be one of the worst comic book movies ever according to dry numbers. But either people love to watch something awful, or they simply don’t care, as the box office digits were quite pleasing to see for anyone involved in the making of the film.
The Zack Snyder directed film, which is the big step towards trying to do what Marvel did so well in creating the Marvel Cinematic Universe, providing a stepping stone for a new Batman franchise, Wonder Woman movie and the Justice League, brought in $170.1 million total in North America on Easter weekend, the biggest ever for a March opening. It brought in a total of $424.1 million globally, the 4th biggest opening in history. The budget for the film is $250 million. It’s the biggest opening of 2016, the second largest in Warner Brothers history and the 7th highest domestic opening weekend in box office history.
On Rotten Tomatoes, it currently has a 29% score among critics, and a 26% score among top critics. However, the audience, the “regular” people who don’t have the title critic next to their job description, give it a 73%. Not too impressive, but not a disaster. As someone said: This movie wasn’t made for critics to love it, it was made for fans to come and see. It’s set up to launch the DC cinematic universe in a successful way, and despite the awful reviews, the box office numbers suggest they did something right, or at least got by on the hype alone.
Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for comScore, tried to explain the film’s box office success despite the reviews: There are simply certain brands, characters and concepts that transcend the objective critical narrative and go straight to the emotional heart of the collective fan base. Perhaps the bat suit and Superman’s cape are made of Teflon after all.
Not all Superman or Batman films do well, or well enough. Superman Returns made $391.1 million worldwide on a $204 million budget (mostly because of the many productions it went through before finally getting made) and got scrapped until Man of Steel appeared. Batman & Robin killed the 90’s Batman franchise, making just $238.1 million on a $140 million budget. But things have changed since 2006 or 1997.
Sometimes studios care about what critics say despite box office success. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 from 2014 made $709 million on a $255 million budget. Disappointing, believe it or not. And the Rotten Tomatoes critics score was 53%. Enough for a decision to go in a new direction when they make Spider-Man the next time. It happened with Spider-Man 3 as well. It made $890.9 million in 2007 on a $258 million budget. Yet it ended the Sam Raimi take on the character, with RT scoring it 63%.
Some franchises don’t care. The four Transformers films directed by Michael Bay have made $3.7 billion combined since the franchise kicked off in 2007, all on a combined $755 million budget. The first film was the best rated at 57%. Revenge of the Fallen (2nd film) got 19%, Dark of the Moon (3rd film) got 35% and Age of Extinction, the 4th film in the series and out in 2014, got 18%. It still made over $1.1 billion in the box office. Which one will Superman vs Batman be?