LOS ANGELES: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice steamrolled past records, debuting to $170.1 million over the weekend despite being pilloried by critics. That ranks as the top opening weekend for a DC Comics film, the best March launch ever, and the sixth biggest domestic opening weekend of all-time.
It’s a shot in the arm for Warner Bros., which has been reeling from a series of costly bombs such as Jupiter Ascending and Pan, and is looking to the Dark Knight and Man of Steel throw down to kick off a series of inter-connected comic book franchises. Warner Bros. has already announced release dates for sequels and spin-offs for the next five years, with the first of these superhero adventures, Suicide Squad, coming out in August.
“This sets us up well,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. distribution executive vice president. “We’re very proud of what we’ve made before in the DC world and what’s coming in front of us is really exciting.”
The studio spared no expense, tapping Ben Affleck to assume Batman’s cape and cowl, bringing back “Man of Steel” director Zack Snyder and Superman star Henry Cavill, and shelling out $250 million in production expenses, as well as millions more in promotional razzle dazzle. The bet appears to have paid off, positioning DC and Warners to have the kind of cinematic universe of costumed heroes and villains that rival Marvel has leveraged to enormous profits.
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It also undercuts the influence of top critics. Reviews for Batman v Superman were withering — the New York Times’ A.O. Scott said seeing the film is “… about as diverting as having a porcelain sink broken over your head” — but audiences didn’t care.
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