NORTH AMERICA: Weekend Estimates: ‘Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice’ Eyes March Record $168M Opening Weekend; ‘Zootopia’ Adds $25M; ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2’ Counter-Programs Successfully W/ $17.7 Debut

Saturday Update: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice launched to an estimated $82.01 million on Friday, including Thursday night’s $27.7 million debut. That gives the WB/DC film the fourth highest opening day of all-time, ahead of Jurassic World‘s $81.95 million and just behind Avengers: Age of Ultron‘s $84.4 million. Yesterday’s take also included $9.015 million from IMAX theaters alone.

The aid of Good Friday crowds certainly played a role in the strength of opening day for the hugely anticipated superhero showdown, but unfortunately, word of mouth is proving to be a struggle so far following poor critical reviews. The studio reports a concerning “B” CinemaScore from audiences, while Flixster audiences have given it a 73 percent rating as of Saturday morning (comparing to 90 percent for Ultronthrough the same point). Still, BvS topped Furious 7‘s $67.4 million opening day to set a new Good Friday/Easter weekend record, and appears headed for a debut weekend around $168 million. Should that hold, it would be the second largest debut in Warner Bros. history behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 ($169.2 million) and the seventh highest overall; it would also top The Hunger Games‘ $152.5 million as the best March opening in history.

Opening in third place yesterday was My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 with an estimated $7.21 million. The sequel to one of the most popular rom-coms of the 2000s is successfully counter-programming against the superhero heavyweight as it looks to earn around $17.7 million this weekend (Universal itself is projecting higher at $19.06 million). Word of mouth, at 70 percent on Flixster, seems to be on par with last year’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2 (69 percent).

Meanwhile, Zootopia added $9.52 million on Good Friday, bringing its domestic take up to $226.93 million. That latest runaway smash hit from Disney Animation should score around $25 million this weekend as it continues to ride a wave of phenomenal word of mouth.

Official weekend estimates from most studios will be reported on Easter Sunday, followed by all actual results on Monday.

Friday Update: Warner Bros. reports this morning that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice landed with an excellent $27.7 million debut from Thursday’s opening night beginning with 6pm shows in theaters across the country. That’s an inch ahead of the $27.6 million posted on Thursday night by last year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, and also tops last year’s Furious 7 ($15.8 million) for the new Easter wee
kend record. Notably, however, it did fall shy of The Dark Knight Rises‘ $30.6 million launch in July 2012 — which didn’t even open until 12am.

Projections for the weekend remain on course for around $170-175 million. Good Friday today will surge attendance among those off work and school, while Easter Sunday could also benefit the film with some families heading to cineplexes. Ultimately, though, the big question mark remains how quickly (and how much) of an impact poor reviews and questionable word of mouth will have on the film’s debut.

Meanwhile, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 earned $1.02 million from last night’s first shows. That’s a solid start for the rom-com sequel as it aims to counter-program the male-heavy superhero blockbuster pic this weekend.

Weekend estimates and official Friday estimates from the studios will be reported here on Saturday morning. Stay tuned.

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