In terms of domestic box office receipts, The Batman will be one of the most successful “part one” superhero films ever.According to Warner Bros., The Batman surpassed $300 million domestically and $600 million globally on Sunday. Matt Reeves and Peter Craig’s DC Comics film is already the second-highest-grossing straight reboot in the United States ($334 million), and fourth-highest-grossing straight reboot worldwide ($668 million), Amazing Spider-Man ($762 million), and Spider-Man:
Homecoming ($881 million), behind Man of Steel ($668 million), Amazing Spider-Man ($762 million), and Spider-Man: Homecoming ($881 million). Casino Royale has grossed either $595 million or $616 million, depending on who you ask, but The Batman will easily surpass both in two days.
By next weekend, it’ll have passed Homecoming in the United States and Man of Steel in the rest of the globe, proving that Batman and Spider-Man are the two most popular superheroes on the planet once again. The Batman is further more proof that, when the correct film is released, box office and revenue behave similarly to pre-pandemic periods.
The Batman is likely to become one of the highest-grossing non-sequel superhero franchise launches in unadjusted (or even adjusted) domestic grosses, while Spider-Man: No Way Home is about to exceed $800 million domestically and $1.85 billion globally.
If it surpasses $407 million domestically, which is still possible (if not inevitable) right now, it will surpass the inflation-adjusted gross of Iron Man ($318 million in 2008) and rank behind only Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Hunger Games, Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, and Black Panther among inflation-adjusted “first movie” releases.
While The Batman will surpass The Twilight Saga: Eclipse ($300.5 million in 2010) as Robert Pattinson’s highest-grossing domestic film today, the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II ($535 million internationally and $829 million globally) may not.
China is practically a lost cause ($11.7 million, owing to 43 percent of cinemas closing due to a Covid comeback and diminishing interest in Hollywood exports), while Japan will only be valued about $10 million (typical for standalone DC non-sequels except for Joker, which broke out with $46 million in 2019). Nonetheless, typical rates of fall would give the $185 million film an over/under $785 million global cume with about $90 million generated internationally last weekend and a current $600.5 million global cume.
That’s not to say strong holds won’t drive it above $800 million, but it does demonstrate that A) it won’t achieve $1 billion, and B) that was never the goal. The budget would be quadrupled at $740 million, while the production expenses would be 4.5 times higher at $832 million.
The similarities to Batman Begins and Se7en were a commercial asset rather than a liability.
Despite being quite similar to Chris Nolan’s Batman Begins (with some narrative strands lifted from the director’s version of Daredevil) and starring villains we’ve previously seen onscreen (Penguin, Catwoman, and Riddler), Warner Bros.’ The Batman is doing rather well. Aside from the positive reviews, apparent IP value, lack of competition, and rise in superhero pop culture domination, the relative familiarity may have been an advantage rather than a handicap.
The Bourne Identity ($214 million + sky-high DVD renal/sales) and xXx ($267 million) aimed to break out/did break out in 2002 because they were unique and “fresh” in terms of what they gave action/spy movie audiences. Jason Bourne ($416 million) and xXx: Return of Xander Cage ($343 million) were both economically viable in 2016/2017 due to their familiarity and potentially redundant characters.
In that way, Another Real-World, Mafia/Politicians-Centered Batman But Even Darker and Grittier appealed not just to cultural amnesia (Bruce Wayne has done plenty of detective work in previous Batman films), but also to the allure of nostalgia in these trying times.
Similarly, blatant genre appropriation from films like Se7en and Saw seems fresh/unique to people who aren’t familiar with its fair game cinematic roots (like Klute). That isn’t strictly a complaint, since A) money talks, B) I enjoyed The Batman better than the original Saw (but Saw VI > The Batman), and C) I like Return of Xander Cage. However, there’s an argument to be made that the film’s (arguable) familiarity in subsequent genre adaptations and in the Chris Nolan Dark Knight trilogy was not a metaphorical handicap but an implicit positive element.
To put it another way, what I considered to be The Batman’s worst creative flaw turned out to be one of its major financial successes. That isn’t the first time I’ve felt that way, and I’d say that the things that made me despise them aren’t new to me. It was the perfect “kids’ first R-rated horror film” blockbuster hit.
And who cares what Scott Mendelson says about a movie that grossed $700 million on a budget of $37 million? But now that The Force Awakens is out of the way, I’m dying to watch Reeves’ The Last Jedi. After all, The Batman has kept theatres viable, given Warner Bros. a tremendous creative and financial triumph, restored their most important IP, and changed the narrative surrounding the DC Comics/DC Films cinematic franchise, to paraphrase yet another (temporarily successful) theatrical franchise reboot. I challenge them to perform better the next time we meet.