Technically it may be a follow up to 2013’s Man of Steel, but next weekend’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is considerably more than that. This is Warner Bros kick off to a slew of Justice League and stand alone comic book adaptations that unloads the top characters in the DC Universe arsenal. It is the first pairing of the two most iconic superheroes on Earth, with Henry Cavill reprising his role as Supes and Ben Affleck becoming the fifth high profile actor over the last quarter century plus to don the Bat Suit (excluding Will Arnett’s voice over work in The LEGO Movie). Zack Snyder, who made Steel, returns to direct with that predecessor’s performers Amy Adams, Diane Lane, and Laurence Fishburne back. Jesse Eisenberg makes his debut as Lex Luthor (with hair!), Jeremy Irons is butler Alfred, and Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman, soon to be in her own pic. Same goes for Jason Momoa as Aquaman, in addition to other cameos.
To say a lot is riding on Justice is quite an understatement. Its reported budget is at least $250 million and it’s had a vigorous marketing campaign that has lasted for months. The success of its future franchise entries are likely to be directly tied to its performance. Early speculation on its opening weekend possibilities are varied. While trailer reaction to February’s Deadpool and the upcoming Captain America: Civil War has been quite strong, there’s been a decidedly more mixed reception here. Some feel this might not reached the $132 million reached by Deadpool, which would be considered pretty disappointing. On the other hand, pre-release tracking is strong and outpacing both the Ryan Reynolds dirty superhero tale and Furious 7, which made $147 million out of the gate. This should, at the least, achieve becoming the highest Superman opening, topping Steel’s $116 million. It has a quite realistic shot at best March premiere if it manages to fly past the $152 million achieved by 2012’s The Hunger Games.
So where do I come out here? This is a tough call. I don’t see this making less than $125 million. I’m also skeptical that a gross matching or opening higher than, say, last year’s Avengers sequel at $191 million is a stretch (though you never know). My feeling is that this might open in range with the last two Dark Knight entries, which opened to $158 and $160 million, respectively. If it tops that, that would give it the distinction of largest start for a Bat flick. I’ll predict it comes just beyond those numbers.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opening weekend prediction: $166.4 million
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