SATURDAY AM UPDATE: As movie theaters continue to pine for a rebound after being closed in 2020-21 and desire more moolah post-Spider-Man: No Way Home, the domestic opening for Warner Bros.’ ninth Batman movie (10th if you include Justice League) is nothing to complain about, with a $120M weekend.
This is after a $57M Friday, an improvement on the early-evening estimate. The overall box office for all titles is looking to clock $163.7M, +169% from last weekend — and even better, +41%, from the first weekend on March 2019.
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Rivals are seeing Batman slightly higher, but it boils down to walk-up business today. But ya know what? People like this Batman, so there’s great word in the air: CinemaScore is A-, a big leap for the franchise after the respective B and B+ earned by Zack Snyder’s Batman v. Superman and Justice League, and Comscore PostTrak’s remains strong at 87% positive and a 71% recommend. Yes, The Batman is close to three hours long and dark. But man, is it gripping.
Anecdotally, the audience I saw it with on Wednesday night at the AMC Century City was transfixed. A colleague remarked how director Matt Reeves’ hand here is very similar to David Fincher when it comes to an embracing thriller, and they’re absolutely right.
The opening also reps a shining return for the Burbank lot to the theatrical window after its HBO Max day-and-date pandemic strategy: Realize the opening weekend of The Batman here is more than the entire domestic gross of Denis Villeneuve’s 10-time Oscar-nominated Dune, which did $108.1M (and $400M WW), the studio’s highest-grossing pic in its “Project Popcorn” program.
Make no mistake: Despite this streaming craze, there are studio bosses and agents out there who savor the theatrical window and all of its downstream riches. Movies are the biggest publicity ever for a piece of content — even if a pic bombs. Theatrical builds global stars and long-lasting, lucrative careers and opportunities. Subscription upticks from streaming content and viewership ratings really don’t do anything to move a star’s profile or their next deal. But the power of the box office is undeniable, and in this case with Robert Pattinson, The Batman returns the actor to his first $100M+ opening since his 2009-12 Twilight sequels.
Pattinson made an appearance at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood Friday night:
Director Matt Reeves told us on Deadline’s Hero Nation that it was always part of the plan for The Batman to have a theatrical release — that it was never in the cards for this movie to be part of that Project Popcorn program announced in December 2020. That’s true if you look at the release-date change history. The Batman originally was supposed to come out on June 25, 2021, before Covid shut down the UK production for seven weeks. The movie was moved to Oct. 1, 2021 in April 2020, then moved again in October 2020 to the current March 4 date.
WarnerMedia is doing it right: Similar to other movie IP on streaming services, they have Reeves expanding Batman universe with an upcoming Penguin HBO Max series, which takes place after this film.
Something else here: Bravo to Warner Bros. for sticking to its latest theatrical date. There was some serious concern about Omicron back in December and January, which prompted a number of studios to push their movies later in the year. Instead, Warners took the gamble and had Batman stay put — and saw exhibition truly deliver in making this movie an event, starting with those preview Tuesday and Wednesday night events and big pushes on circuits’ social media channels.
Box Office analytics corp EntTelligence reports 4M admissions so far for The Batman, commanding 81% tickets sold Friday alone. Of that, 22% of the crowd opted to see the movie in a premium format. Sales were strong throughout Friday: 27% of audiences came before 6 p.m., 47% came during prime hours 6-9 p.m., and 26% came after 9.
A heavily male crowd here for The Batman at 67%, with the roaring moviegoing 18-34 crowd repping 62%, per PostTrak. Diversity draw was 41% Caucasian, 26% Latino and Hispanic, 17% Black, and 16% Asian/other. CinemaScore audience diagnostics are showing males at 65%, giving the movie an A-, females a B+ at 35%. Those over 35 repped 31% of the crowd, while those over 50 showed up at 11%. A-s grades largely throughout all demos.
Imax and PLF are repping 33% of the weekend cash register to date. How big is this opener? Thirteen theaters grossed over $100K, close to 50 runs over $75K and close to 200 over $50K — and that was for Friday alone.
Even though movie theaters were shut down due to Covid, Warner Bros. continued to have a bullhorn, promoting The Batman and dropping the first trailer at the virtual DC Fandome confab in August 2020. The studio dropped a second trailer last fall during another online DC Fandome that showed off Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman, Paul Dano as The Riddler and Colin Farrell as The Penguin.
RelishMix reports that The Batman social media universe swelled during the past two weeks, rising to 644.1M, above superhero movie norms. YouTube views were the driver, with 515.5M from a lean-and-mean four-owned trailers and spots, which were going viral “at an exceptional rate of 102:1.” While Spider-Man: No Way Home touted an SMU of 1.23 billion ahead of opening, the noticeable difference was Zendaya’s 150.2M social reach and the cast’s overall 253.9M followers. Spider-Man YouTube views were at 792.5M views, with a hefty stack of 14 videos.
Says RelishMix, “Social cast activation levels ran surprisingly moderate overall — with well-activated Andy Serkis at 1.2M and Jeffrey Wright at 426K. Most notable is the well-managed Zoë Kravitz Instagram with 11 posts now at 6.8M fans, adding 97K new fans per week — while Robert Pattinson, Paul Dano, Colin Farrell, and John Turturro are off the grid — noting that director/writer/producer Matt Reeves has an activated 388K fans.”
Chatter for The Batman was overall good ahead of opening but had its cynics, per RelishMix, with “fans wondering how much darker The Batman can be from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight — with obvious comparisons to the tone of Christian Bale and how the visuals of the trailers feel closer to modern day and less of a fantasy world. The song choice of Nirvana’s “Something in the Way” is resonating well in convo, as materials deliver a spoiler-free storyline but glimpses of Catwoman, The Riddler and The Penguin, with hopes of a Joker cameo.
On a big tentpole, chatter covers enormous ground, with intensely mixed highs for a return to normal post-Covid popcorn life — to skeptical, expectedly snarky nitpickers, overall tracking mixed-leaning-positive. Date-and-date debates are nearly non-existent, along with complaints about vaxxing and masks. Onscreen moments with Pattinson and Kravitz are spiking chatter positively.”
1.) The Batman (WB) 4,417 theaters Fri $57M/3-day $120M/Wk 1
2.) Uncharted (Sony) 3,875 (-400) theaters, Fri $2.96M (-50%)/3-day $12.4M (-46%)/Total $101.6M/Wk 3
3.) Dog (UAR) 3,507 (-320) theaters, Fri $1.6M (-35%)/3-day $6.45M (-36%)/Total $40.4M/Wk 3
4.) Spider-Man: No Way Home (Sony) 2,709 (-293) theaters, Fri $1.06M (-18%)/3-day $4.7M (-19%)/Total $786.8M/Wk 12
5.) Death on the Nile (Dis) 2,565 (-855) theaters, Fri $772K (-36%)/ 3-day $2.9M (-34%)/Total $36.9M/Wk 4
6.) Sing 2 (Uni/Ill) 2,026 (-356) theaters, Fri $330K (-21%)/3-day $1.75M (-22%)/Total: $153.8M/Wk 11
7.) Jackass Forever(Par) 1,981 theaters (-932), Fri $425K (-51%)/3-day $1.51M (-52%)/Total: $54.6M/Wk 5
8.) Cyrano (UAR) 797 theaters Fri $191K (-59%)/3-day $679K (-51%)/Total $2.57M/Wk 2
9.) Scream (Par) 853 (-713) theaters Fri $160K (-54%)/3-day $620M (-54%) /Total: $80.2M/Wk 8
10.) Gangubai Kathiawadi (Hamsin) 280 (-205) theaters, Fri $160K, 3-day $551k (-45%)/Total $1.7M/Wk 2
11.) Marry Me (Uni) 1,246 (-1,864) theaters Fri $160K (-70%)/3-day $550K (-71%)/Total $21.4M/Wk 4
FRIDAY UPDATE 6:16PM: Comscore is back online, with numbers trickling in and industry estimates are seeing at least $110M for The Batman over three days after what is expected to be a $55M Friday (including previews). The anticipation by many is that these numbers for the near-three hour movie should grow. As of this minute, Batman is the 6th best opening for March after Beauty and the Beast ($174.7M), Batman v. Superman ($166M), Captain Marvel ($153.4M), The Hunger Games ($152.5M) and Alice in Wonderland ($116.1M).
This is a fantastic result not only for the industry; the biggest opening to date in 2022, but it’s also a big comeback for Warner Bros. as they return to a 45-day theatrical window after implementing a day-and-date theatrical HBO Max strategy during the pandemic last year. The last big opening for Warner Bros. on a pure theatrical window was Joker in Oct. 2019 which debuted to $96.2M stateside and became the biggest grossing R-rated movie worldwide with $1.07 billion.
Shortly after we posted, NYC Mayor Eric Adams gave the go-ahead for the city to lift indoor mask mandates, as well as vax card checking at venues, effective Monday. Broadway meanwhile will maintain a vaccine and mask policy through April 30.
Yes, by pandemic standards, The Batman‘s first day is the second best behind Spider-Man: No Way Home‘s $121.9M. However, the theatrical business is expected to continue to soar as the pandemic eases, and they’ll come a time when we won’t have to measure hits by putting the word ‘pandemic’ before the record. Batman’s opening is a great opening by any standard, period.
We’ll have more updates as they come.
FRIDAY AM UPDATE: Warner Bros’ complete return to the theatrical window, sans HBO Max day-and-date, is proving to be a lucrative feat. Since debuting with previews Tuesday night, the Matt Reeves-directed The Batman has racked up $21.6 million. Between special one-showtime-only previews, largely Imax, on Tuesday and Wednesday, The Batman rang up $4M, which means Thursday shows after 3pm did $17.6M. Batman was booked in about 3,700 theaters for previews, and its theater count rises to 4,417 today.
The Batman‘s Thursday previews are ahead of such DC fare as Justice League ($13M) and Wonder Woman ($11M), but below The Dark Knight ($18.5M), The Dark Knight Rises ($30.6M) and Batman v. Superman ($27.7M). Still, The Batman is in healthy box office territory and comes at such a great, pivotal time for theaters: It’s largely been a year since the New York City and Los Angeles markets were able to reopen; L.A. just announced it’ lifting the indoor mask mandate for vaccinated and unvaccinated, while New York City will rescind its indoor mask policy Monday. NRG reported earlier this week that those moviegoers who are “very or somewhat comfortable” attending the cinema reached 80%, just a point shy of the all-time high set back on July 11, 2021 (81%).
I hear that Warner Bros as of Thursday had $50M in presales heading into the weekend for the Robert Pattinson-starring DC movie, and it’s not front-loaded, with strong ticket sales expected Saturday, not just today. Tuesday Imax-only previews were sold out. Warners did the Tuesday and Wednesday previews to generate heat as it believed in the movie, letting fans be the first to see it.
Where does this leave Batman? Batman v. Superman, released a week before Easter weekend in 2016, saw Thursday previews repping 34% of its first-day Friday of $81.55M, which translated into a $166M opening. The Dark Knight‘s Thursday repped 28% of its $67.1M first day and that movie turned in a three-day total of $158.4M. So we could be looking at a first Friday for Batman of at least $60M.
Reeves’ near-three-hour movie isn’t putting anybody to sleep: PostTrak Thursday night polls show 4 1/2 stars, 88% positive and a massive 73% definite recommend. Men over 25 led the charge at 42% giving The Batman a 86% grade, men under 25 loved it at 90% positive, women over 25 turned out at 17% with an 85% grade while women under 25 repped 14% of the crowd with a 95% grade. Overall, The Batman‘s previews are built on the 18-34 demo, the foundation of the moviegoing business, who showed up at 68%. Those over 45 repped 11% of the crowd, while those over 35 showed up at 25%. PostTrak polls saw close to half the audience watching The Batman in a regular theater, while 24% were in Imax, and 23% in a PLF auditorium. Seventy-six percent of the audience bought tickets online, versus 24% at the theater.
Twenty percent bought tickets to The Batman a week ago, 23% within the last week, 16% the day before they saw the pic, while 40% bought tickets on the day they watched the movie.
Among regular movies in play Thursday, Sony’s Uncharted led with $1.09M at 4,275 theaters, ending its second week with $29.1M and a running total of $89.2M. MGM/UAR’s Dog saw $640K on Thursday, with a second week of $13.2M and a running total of $33.9M.
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