It's a topic that's been visited on our LOS FANBOYS podcast, as well as in comment sections, news articles, and around other fanboy water coolers for a while now:
How Much Money Does 'BATMAN V SUPERMAN' Have To Make In Order To Be A Success?
For this report, I'll stick with covering analysis just released by Variety- a trusted news outlet with no horse in the race.
According to the outlet and their insiders, BATMAN V SUPERMAN will have to make anywhere from $800 million to $1 billion to be a success. Warner Bros is coming off of its worst year in recent memory, since JUPITER ASCENDING, PAN, and Henry Cavill-starrer THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. all either bombed or underperformed in 2015. Originally, BATMAN V SUPERMAN was supposed to come out that same year, but was famously delayed so that WB/DC could retool the script and get its slate of hopeful DC films in order.
WB needs to make a comeback in 2016 and, beyond that, they need BvS to hit big because they have a lot of plans riding on its success.
"It would be a slight exaggeration to say everything is riding on this film,” said Cowen and Co. analyst Doug Creutz. “But if they can’t make this sale to audiences, then they have a huge problem. They have told Wall Street they are going to grow earnings at Warner Bros. If you can’t make that franchise work, then you can’t achieve that goal."
Looking at Marvel's success and what's its done for rival Disney, Variety says Warner Bros is hopeful that a successful DC slate could rake in at least an additional $150 million for the studio annually. That's what they hope, and that's what they're telling investors.
As of now, the studio has sunk around $400 million into the film- $250 on production budget and $150 on promotion. As things stand at this moment, the studio is apparently scaling down expectations for the film's opening weekend. While Deadline reported that the film was initially tracking for a $120-$140 million opening, a more recent report said it'd be closer to $140- eliminating the idea that it could open smaller than DEADPOOL ($132 million). But Variety claims the studio is still, indeed, working under the $120-$140 million projection.
Ben Affleck, who plays Bruce Wayne/Batman in the Zack Snyder-directed flick, also spoke candidly with Variety. While he recently tried to downplay the pressure surrounding BATMAN V SUPERMAN, he conceded to the outlet a couple of months ago that there's a lot riding on it. "I think there is a ton of pressure on it. I mean I would be bull$#!*ing you to say there isn’t," Affleck told them.
Echoing concerns that came out of early test screenings for BATMAN V SUPERMAN Eddy Von Mueller, a senior lecturer in the Film and Media Studies department at Emory University, says that WB/DC's desire to make a more arresting superhero film "could be a tougher sell to audiences." Von Mueller's comments are based on a comparison between DC and Marvel, since the latter's films have tended to be more lighthearted and escapist.
But even Von Mueller admits that the sheer novelty of having the names BATMAN and SUPERMAN in the same title, with a promotional campaign that also features WONDER WOMAN, could be enough to overshadow such concerns. "I am really curious to see where this goes. Can they develop an ensemble franchise out of the DC properties?"
WB/DC clearly has a hopeful "YES!" to answer, if asked that question. The studio wants to make another 10 or so DC movies just based on the seeds planted in BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. The film is a gateway to everything else.
"They have the chance to come out with all these other movies,” said Bank of America/Merrill Lynch media analyst Jessica Reif Cohen. “But it makes the situation much harder; harder to win an audience, harder to market, if this one doesn’t work. … It’s pretty critical."
Finally, another media analyst, who spoke with Variety on a condition of anonymity, chimed in to say that "anything under $1 billion in worldwide box office will be a disappointment."
At the end of the day, to fans, none of this matters. All they want is a great movie. Whether it makes $1.3 billion or $300 million is really just the concern of the folks who paid to make the movie, so don't get too wrapped up in these concerns/projections. Let's all just hope that when fans show up in droves on March 25 that they walk away having experienced something truly special. As fans of these films, and of these characters, that's the best we could ask for.
That said, how do you feel about Variety's report? It's certainly an interesting topic for anyone intrigued by the business end of the film industry.