The final scorecard makes it clear -- in the bout between Batman, Superman, and critics, the victory goes to Warner Bros.
Despite waves of negative reviews, Zack Snyder's "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" was a smash commercial success in its first weekend of release, bringing in $170.1 million at the U.S. box office and $254 million overseas, good for a worldwide total of $424.1 million -- the fourth-biggest opening in global history. According to BoxOffice.com, the $170.1 domestic take was a record for a March release, besting the $152.54 million mark set by "The Hunger Games" in 2012, and making the Warner Bros. decision to move the "Man of Steel" sequel's release from its original May date to March look prescient.
The change allowed the DC Comics' adaptation to avoid going head-to-head with Marvel's "Captain America: Civil War," slated for a May 5 debut, but as Warner Bros. Distribution Executive Vice President Jeff Goldstein told Variety, part of the consideration was that the date allowed for a simultaneous global release, with the Henry Cavill/Ben Affleck spectacle hitting 66 foreign markets in the same weekend. "The beauty of moving our date is that strategically it allowed us to open up around the world at the same time and in a time frame where there’s not a lot of competition," he said. $57.3 million of the movie's weekend revenue came from China, per Variety.
"Dawn of Justice," which brought in $82 million stateside on Friday, marks DC/Warner Bros.' first foray into the kind of interconnected movie universe that has proven so successful for Marvel and Disney. In addition to introducing audiences to Ben Affleck as Batman, the film also gives audiences their first look at Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, who will star in a movie of the same name that will be directed by Patty Jenkins and is slated for release on June 23, 2017. DC's next big-screen team-up hits a few months later, with "Batman v Superman," "Man of Steel," and "Watchmen" director Zack Snyder uniting DC's biggest heroes in "Justice League: Part One," due out November 17, 2017.
Still, the harsh criticism of "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" has become an unmistakable part of the story, with cast members battling back against the negative press. During an appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon," Ben Affleck explained the disconnect between critics and fans, telling Fallon, "We're not going for the film critic circle. This is an audience movie."
Henry Cavill agreed. "The audience's voice is loudest and after this weekend the audience, at least partly, will have spoken," the "Man of Steel" actor told media this week.
With enough in the bank to give even Bruce Wayne pause, the audience seems to be backing up the stars' statements, including the one by the man tasked with playing Wayne himself when Affleck told Fallon, "People actually like this movie."
"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" is in theaters now.