Why ‘Batman v Superman’ suffered such a massive box office drop in its second weekend

Note: You can watch Roth Cornet and I discuss this topic in the video embedded above and below.

After grossing a record-breaking $166 million in its opening frame, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice declined precipitously in its second weekend, dropping a huge 68.4% to $52 million — a plummet that has left many industry observers to wonder whether the film will even manage to crack the $1 billion mark globally. Indeed, Box Office Guru founder Gitesh Pandya is among those predicting a sub-billion-dollar total.

“I project a domestic final of about $345M and a worldwide final of around $900M,” Pandya told me via email. 

So what contributed to Dawn of Justice's massive decline, which puts it on a par with the widely-reviled X-Men spinoff X-Men Origins: Wolverine? Some have speculated that the film benefitted from an Easter-holiday boost in its first frame, thereby inflating the gap between its first and second weekends — and while Pandya agrees with that assessment to a degree, box office expert and The Numbers founder Bruce Nash isn't convinced.

“It's not entirely an unreasonable observation, although I think there [are] people on spring break this weekend as well as last weekend,” said Nash. “And you know, Easter is regarded as a holiday by a lot of folks, but it's also not an official public holiday in the U.S., so that's a little bit of a dubious argument, I would say. I think that it perhaps helped a little bit, but I don't think it helped it to the tune of an extra $30 million or something.”

David Mumpower is perhaps the most pessimistic of the pundits who weighed in, with the Box Office Prophets founder telling me plainly, “I'm surprised by how quickly it's dying. The weekday numbers were all alarming, and what's happened over the weekend indicates that it's already a dead film.” Mumpower went on to note that he expects six-week-old Zootopia to actually best Dawn of Justice by next weekend. Said the analyst: “It's a funny statistic that basically kicks Warner Bros while they're down, but the underlying premise is striking.”

But the most obvious problem plaguing BvS is, simply, poor word of mouth (it received a “B” CinemaScore, low for a superhero film). “A 60-63% drop would have been acceptable considering the circumstances, but 69% tells me that there were plenty of people telling friends to avoid the film,” said Pandya.

According to Nash, the bad buzz renders Dawn of Justice less likely to break out with the broader audiences that showed up for tentpoles like The Avengers and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As for the hardcore fanbase that turned out during its first weekend in theaters, they likely aren't giving it the repeat business it needs to stay buoyant.

“The people who are the core audience aren't going back and seeing it the second weekend in the way that people did with Star Wars and did with The Dark Knight and some of these other franchise films [that] have people that will go see them two, three, four times,” said Nash. “I don't have any proof of this, but [that's] my suspicion.” 

Follow Gitesh Pandya on Twitter @GiteshPandya

Follow Box Office Prophets on Twitter @BoxOfficeProph

Follow The Numbers on Twitter @MovieNumbers