How did ‘The Batman’ opening box office compare to previous Caped Crusader movies?

Over the weekend, Matt Reeves’s “The Batman” scored big time in movie theaters with $134 million after making $57 million on Friday (including $21.7 million in preview screenings between Tuesday and Thursday), the largest opening of 2022 so far. The movie was estimated to have made $128.5 million as of Sunday, but once actual box office was counted for Sunday, that number was updated.

That’s pretty decent for the well-received superhero movie, making up 80% of the domestic box office marketplace over the weekend, as well as being the second highest opening for a movie since the pandemic began. It did particularly well in premium formats like IMAX, which made up 30% of that opening weekend.

On the flip side, Reeves’s movie, which introduces Robert Pattinson as the “Dark Knight Detective,” also had the lowest opening for a Batman going back to Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” in 2005, although that movie’s $48.7 opening weekend was better than all but one Batman movie that preceded it … plus it opened on a Wednesday.

In better news, “The Batman” also opened overseas and almost matched its North American premiere with another $120 million in 74 international markets, giving it a worldwide debut of $254 million. So in a single weekend it made roughly 63% of what Warner Bros’ Oscar-nominated hit, “Dune,” did in its entirety. So where does that leave the studios marquee superhero character in comparison to previous installments?

With a reported cost of $200 million, “The Batman” is the third most expensive movie in the entire franchise, following the conclusion of Nolan’s trilogy, “The Dark Knight Rises,” and Zack Snyder’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Those previous movies both opened with over $160 million and grossed $448 million and $330 million, respectively, at the domestic box office, though the latter wasn’t received quite as well as Reeves’s film. Going by Rotten Tomatoes, “The Batman” achieved a “Certified Fresh” rating of 85% from critics and a 90% score from audiences, as well as an A- from audience-tracking CinemaScore. (All three of Nolan’s “Dark Knight” movies received an A while Snyder’s movie only got a B.)

More good news comes from the fact that there are no new wide releases opening this Friday, March 11. Actually, the only major studio release of any kind until April is the Sandra BullockChanning Tatum action-comedy “The Lost City” on March 25. This limited competition means that “The Batman” could still make $300 million domestically, especially since it’s been received better than “Batman v Superman” and thus could benefit from word of mouth and repeat viewings.

Batman has always been a popular movie character going back to Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman,” which is thought to have paved the way for the modern-day superhero movie, along with the late Richard Donner’s “Superman” from 1978. Burton’s “Batman” grossed $251 million domestically, a little more than twice “The Batman’s” opening, but adjusted for inflation, that would be more in the range of $576 million today.

Listen, it’s always going to be tough for a darker and more violent film like “The Batman” to do the kind of numbers that the more family-friendly Marvel movies typically make, but Warner and DC Entertainment are gonna give it a go in 2022 with three more high-profile releases that were previewed in a sizzle reel before some screenings of “The Batman.” “Black Adam” may be a new character to non-comics readers, but it stars A-lister Dwayne Johnson as Shazam’s long-time nemesis. Ezra Miller’s “The Flash” has already made appearances, both in the “Justice League” movie and TV’s “Arrow.” And “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” brings back Jason Momoa as that popular character, whose previous movie made $335 million domestically in late 2018.

In other words, it’s going to be a great year for superhero movies, if you’re into that sort of thing.

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