Warner Bros. latest iteration of one of its iconic superhero franchises, Matt Reeves’ The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson as the title character, took $128.5M in its domestic theatrical debut this weekend. The film added $120 million from 74 overseas markets, taking its global debut to $248.5 million.
This marks the pandemic era’s second-best opening, behind only December’s Spider-Man: No Way Home with $260.1M.
Directed by Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, War for the Planet of the Apes, Cloverfield), the dark and gritty take also costars Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman, Andy Serkis as butler Alfred Pennyworth, Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner Gordon, Paul Dano as the Riddler, and an unrecognizable Colin Farrell as the Penguin.
Among Batman movies
The opening weekend finished behind several other recent Batman titles, all of them sequels, a factor to be expected whenever a studio relaunches a franchise. When compared to other movies starring the Caped Crusader, The Batman debuted:
- -19 percent behind 2008’s The Dark Knight with $158.4.
- -20 percent below 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises with $160.8M.
- -22 percent below 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice with $166.0M.
However, it did start 36 percent above the most recent Batman movie: 2017’s Justice League, which opened with $93.8M.
The Batman also represents the fourth–biggest March opening weekend of all time, behind only:
- 2017’s live-action Beauty and the Beast with $174.7M.
- 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice with $166.0M.
- 2019’s Captain Marvel with $153.4M.
- 2012’s The Hunger Games with $152.5M.
Chasing pre-pandemic levels
Including all other movies, not just The Batman, this weekend marks only the second frame of the pandemic era which exceeded the box office of the equivalent frame in 2019, the last full pre-pandemic year.
The only other weekend to do so previously was the mid-December frame led by the debut of No Way Home, which exceeded the (fairly hard to beat) equivalent frame in 2019 when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker premiered.
With The Batman, Warner Bros. also instantly vaults near the top of highest-grossing distributors.
Prior to this, they had only earned $10.7M from theatrical so far this calendar year, due to three late-2021 holdovers: primarily December’s The Matrix Resurrections with $9.5M, but also a bit each from Dune and King Richard. That total ranked it below such so-called “mid-major” distributors as Lionsgate and United Artists Releasing / MGM.
Almost overnight, they already rank in second place for the year with $139.2M, besting Paramount’s $135.8M and Universal’s $122.2M. The leading distributor remains Sony Pictures with $323.6M (although Disney seems poised to take the crown at some point this summer or possibly fall).
The Batman’s huge start was doubtless helped by Warner Bros. granting theatrical exclusivity, after all of their theatrical releases in December 2020 and through 2021 debuted day-and-date simultaneously on HBO Max.
That included such blockbuster (or attempted blockbuster) titles as Dune, Godzilla vs. Kong, The Matrix Resurrections, Wonder Woman 1984, The Suicide Squad, and Space Jam: A New Legacy. Not since August 2020’s Tenet had Warner Bros. committed a film exclusively to the big screen.
A new pricing strategy
AMC, North America’s largest cinema exhibition circuit, debuted a surcharge for The Batman across all its locations.
Showtimes have often had variable pricing, such as lower costs for early afternoon matinees than for nighttime showings. AMC’s decision to add $1 for all The Batman showings this weekend, regardless of time, marks an unprecedented experiment in this part of the world. (The practice has existed for years in Europe.)
The strategy risked alienating audiences surprised by the unexpected price change, but results seem to have panned out for the country’s largest cinema circuit. Eight of the top ten highest-grossing theaters in North America for The Batman belong to AMC.
The film’s opening title card appears in an almost comically large font, taking up every inch of the screen, and audiences flocked to those big screens indeed. IMAX showings at 405 locations comprised $15.0M, or about 12 percent of market share.
When added alongside other premium formats like Dolby Cinema and motion seating such as 4DX, premium formats made up about 30 percent of the film’s box office.
The Batman earned a solid $29,092 per-theater average. For comparison, that’s:
- -19 percent behind The Dark Knight with $36,282.
- -20 percent behind The Dark Knight Rises with $36,532.
- -25 percent behind Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice with $39,134.
- 26 percent ahead of Justice League with $23,065.
Casting the crystal ball forward for the next few weeks, The Batman is likely poised to hold well. In addition to the theatrical exclusivity, there’s a relative lack of theatrical competition this month, with the past two weekends’ leader Uncharted now in its third frame and the next major theatrical release The Lost City not arriving until March 25.
In fact, The Batman seems potentially poised to exceed 50 percent of the month’s box office. That feat has only been accomplished by three films in the 21st century, two of them in the past year alone:
- The Avengers with 51.9 percent of the box office in May 2012.
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings with 54.7 percent in September 2021.
- Spider-Man: No Way Home with 62.2 percent in December 2021.
Total box office this weekend equals $158.6M, which is:
- 2.6x last weekend’s total of $60.8M, when Uncharted led for a second frame with $23.0M.
- 7.5x the equivalent weekend in 2021 with $20.9M, as the box office was taking its first pandemic-era baby steps back to normalcy, when Tom & Jerry led with $14.1M.
- 62 percent ahead of the equivalent weekend in 2020 with $97.3M, when The Invisible Man led with $28.2M.
- 36 percent ahead of the equivalent weekend in 2019 with $115.9M, when How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World led with $30.0M.
Elsewhere at the box office…
Coming in second place this weekend with $11.0M, after leading both the prior two frames, Uncharted crossed the $100M threshold. That makes it the second title released in 2022 to do so, alongside The Batman.
With Sony Pictures reporting Uncharted at a $100.2M total upon weekend estimates, it’s possible the film could fall slightly short of the nine-digit mark once Monday’s weekend actuals are released. If so, it would unquestionably cross the mark with Monday’s numbers, to be reported on Tuesday.
Spider-Man: No Way Home
Think a new superhero movie entering the market would plummet the one other superhero movie already playing? Think again. Sony’s Spider-Man: No Way Home actually experienced the mildest decline among this weekend’s top 10 films, dropping only -24 percent.
Still ranking fourth place in its 12th frame with $4.4M, No Way Home has now spent all 12 of its weekends in the top 10. That eclipses 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming which spent 11 weekends in that tier, as well as 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home which spent seven.
Speaking of movies spending many frames in the top 10, Universal’s animated Sing 2 notches its 11th weekend in that tier. For comparison, 2016’s original Sing spent eight such frames.
The sequel took sixth place this weekend, with $1.5M.
A24’s After Yang — this weekend’s OTHER new movie with Colin Farrell — opened to $46,872 in 24 theaters, for a $1,953 average.
Academy Award Best Picture nominee Drive My Car from Janus Films closes in on the $2M mark, with $1.96M through this weekend.
United Artists’ Cyrano, while not quite in “limited” release, is playing on 797 theaters which represents only about one-quarter to one-fifth of the reach of the the market’s biggest titles. With a -51 percent drop this frame in its sophomore weekend, it continues the recent string of theatrical musicals falling fast in their second frames.
However, it actually held better than 2021’s three such musical releases: December’s West Side Story fell -65 percent, September’s Dear Evan Hansen declined -67 percent, and June’s In the Heights went down -63 percent.
Sunday’s Studio Weekend Estimates: March 4-6, 2022
|Title||Estimated weekend||% change||Locations||Location change||Average||Total||Weekend||Distributor|
|The Batman||$128,500,000||4,417||$29,092||$128,500,000||1||Warner Bros.|
|Spider-Man: No Way Home||$4,400,000||-24%||2,709||-293||$1,624||$786,488,223||12||Sony Pictures|
|Death on the Nile||$2,727,000||-39%||2,565||-855||$1,063||$37,094,747||4||20th Century|
|Studio 666||$340,000||-78%||2,208||-98||$154||$2,283,458||2||Open Road|
|The Worst Person in the World||$210,000||-47%||264||-290||$795||$2,223,678||5||Neon|
|The Cursed||$201,500||-81%||1,695||n/c||$119||$4,283,669||3||LD Entertainment|
|Licorice Pizza||$152,548||-56%||211||-396||$723||$16,443,488||15||United Artists|
|Drive My Car||$75,645||-49%||102||-60||$742||$1,962,157||15||Janus Films|
|West Side Story||$51,000||-73%||165||-515||$309||$38,242,600||13||20th Century|
|The King’s Man||$9,000||-69%||40||-60||$225||$37,172,565||11||20th Century|
|Huda’s Salon||$8,000||30||$267||$8,000||1||IFC Films|
|Adventures in Success||$3,467||3||$1,156||$3,467||1||Utopia|