Let's be clear: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice will end its run as a sizable box office hit, with final worldwide projections somewhere in the $900 million range. That being said! Experts who spoke with Bloomberg this week are predicting a lower profit margin for the film than even Man of Steel — a movie with just a single superhero! — managed back in 2013. I repeat: shoving Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman into a single movie did not work untold wonders for Warner Bros.' bottom line. Here's big-deal financial analyst Wade Holden of SNL Kagan to give you the skinny:
“I”m sure that it”s a bit of a disappointment,” Holden said. “They were probably hoping for box-office numbers similar to ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron,” since ‘Batman v Superman” had DC”s three most well-known comic book heroes together in the same movie” — Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.
For the record, Holden's projections “once home video, TV and merchandise proceeds” are accounted for give Dawn of Justice a profit of about $278 million for the studio — certainly nothing to sneeze at, but less than the estimated $300 million they made on Man of Steel, which brought in $668 million globally but cost less to produce ($225 mil vs. $250 mil production budget). Holden goes on to state that BvS would have to make $1.15 billion worldwide in order to match Man of Steel's profit margin — a number the film doesn't look likely to reach. So how is the studio feeling about this? From Bloomberg:
“They have to be pretty satisfied; they probably aren”t elated,” said Matthew Harrigan, an analyst at Wunderlich Securities who recommends Time Warner stock. He forecasts the movie will finish its worldwide theatrical run with sales of less than $1 billion.
For comparison's sake, Holden estimates that Age of Ultron made around $853 million for Disney/Marvel (off a worldwide gross of $1.4 billion), which is more than three times the amount of Batman v Superman's expected profits. That's a not-insignificant gap.
As I've stated previously, a worldwide total of less than $1 billion for BvS is destined to be viewed as a disappointment by most industry observers, which is not the same thing as calling the movie a flop. As Holden indicates, $900 million could only be seen as disappointing for a film like Dawn of Justice, one of the most heavily-hyped superhero extravaganzas of all time that brings together three of the most iconic characters in comic book history.
Analysts I spoke with earlier this week blamed poor word of mouth for BvS's steep second weekend drop at the box office, and, considering the film's Green Lantern-level “B” CinemaScore based on audience exit polls, it's not a bad assumption. This weekend it's expected to gross somewhere in the mid-$20 million range, putting it neck-and-neck with box office queen Melissa McCarthy's latest starring vehicle The Boss.