A brooding ‘The Batman’ revives cinema with a grand opening this year

Batman can add another defeated villain to his resume: the dismal start to this year’s Hollywood box office.

‘The Batman’, Warner Bros.’ reboot of the standalone Batman franchise, grossed $128.5 million in its opening weekend, the studio said, the best opening weekend for a movie since ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ from Sony Pictures Entertainment grossed $260.1 million on its December debut, according to box office tracker Comscore.

Including international box office receipts, “The Batman” grossed a total of $248.5 million in its opening weekend. The film, whose release in Russia was halted in response to President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, will be released in Japan next week and in China on March 18.

The success of “The Batman” – it had the biggest box office success of 2022 after just one weekend on screens and the second-best gross in the pandemic era – is an encouraging sign for studios, given the timing of its release between holiday seasons, lingering fears over the Omicron variant of Covid-19, the film’s dark subject matter, and its nearly three-hour runtime.

The result marks the fourth-biggest opening weekend ever for a Batman movie – the best was $166 million for “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” in 2016. Warner Bros. had predicted an opening weekend gross between $80 million and $90 million. million.

Michael Keaton in “Batman Returns” in 1992.


Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

Critics were impressed with ‘The Batman,’ directed by Matt Reeves, which was described as a gritty film noir that has more in common with Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy – in which the titular character and his adversaries are struggling with personal demons – than with the superhero ensemble films, such as “Justice League” that immediately preceded it. RottenTomatoes.com reported that 85% of reviews for the film were positive.

“The Batman” brought a new cast of actors to the classic tale, including Robert Pattinson as the title character; Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle, the thief also known as Catwoman; and Paul Dano as The Riddler, who terrorizes Gotham City.

Mr. Pattinson, who emerged more than a decade ago as a Hollywood heartthrob in the “Twilight” series, is the seventh cinematic Batman, following in the footsteps of the likes of Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Michael Keaton and Christian Bale.

“We are in thin air here. Since 2019, only two movies have opened with over $100 million at the box office,” said Jeffrey Goldstein, president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros.

Mr. Goldstein cited the film’s strong performance at premium screenings through IMAX, Dolby Cinema and others, as well as improvements made by theater owners to the viewer experience, including renovations, new dealership and sound technology, as part of the reason for the opening’s success.

A brooding 'The Batman' revives cinema with a grand opening this year

Christian Bale starred in “Batman Begins” in 2005.


Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

The film’s box office performance also gives ammunition to critics of many Hollywood studios’ pandemic strategy to release some high-profile movies, including ‘Dune’, ‘Suicide Squad’ and ‘The Matrix Resurrections’, on the services of streaming and in cinemas at the same time.

WarnerMedia, which owns both the studio and the HBOMax streaming service, released its entire slate of films simultaneously in theaters and online last year, sparking outrage from directors and actors, who said the strategy had defrauded them of bonuses linked to the quality of the films. At the box office.

This year, WarnerMedia says it’s pivoting to a 45-day theatrical window, meaning “The Batman” will only be seen in theaters until mid-April, when it’s expected to start streaming on HBOMax.

“With more blockbuster streaming experiences, you can really see the potential in these films,” said Richard Gelfond, chief executive of cinema technology company IMAX, which aired “The Batman” on 405 screens in America. North.


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The day and date strategy “was a completely failed experiment and it lasted much longer than necessary,” Gelfond said.

The film also represents a major shift in ticket pricing strategy for exhibitors. For the first time, select theaters have introduced a premium pricing model in recent months, which will result in tickets costing approximately $1 more for “The Batman” than other movies shown in the same theaters.

“The Batman” will also likely benefit from facing almost no competition from other franchise titles over the next few weeks. The next superhero movie slated for release is Sonyit’s

SONY -1.76%

“Morbius”, scheduled for April 1. Other major upcoming titles, including Paramount’s “The Lost City,” starring Channing Tatum and Sandra Bullock, and the animated feature “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” don’t release until March 25 and April. 8, respectively.

Behind “The Batman,” Sony’s Tom Holland action flick “Uncharted” added $11 million in ticket sales this weekend, bringing its total gross to just over $100 million, according to Comscore. It was followed by Channing Tatum’s “Dog” at $6 million and “Spider-Man: No Way Home” at $4.4 million.

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