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(EXCLUSIVE): #BatmanvSuperman Dominates #BoxOffice, But...

...Darkseid might not be this superhero movie's greatest threat after all.

Story by Matt Cummings

It was a weekend for the box office history books, as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice set several worldwide and domestic records, but slightly under-performed here in the States. Warner Bros on Monday reported that BVSDOJ took in a domestic total of $166m, establishing a new March opening weekend record and the largest Easter opening, besting the $147.1m brought in by Furious 7 last year. It's also the largest opening for a DC Comics film, a record previously held by The Dark Knight Rises ($160.8m).

Such a premiere had been a foregone conclusion, based on the extra year Director Zack Snyder took to bring the film to audiences. But with all the celebration at WB's Burbank studios, there's probably a lot of worrying going on. Destroyed by critics (with only a 29% Rotten Tomatoes rating as of this posting) and netting only a "B" CinemaScore, the studio has to be concerned about how long the film will hold up. WB's original estimate of $170m did not pan out, as its Sunday suffered a 33% decline; this was based partially on the Easter holiday but also from those social media reviews which condemned the film's slow pace and sometimes incoherent storyline. As a matter of comparison, Deadpool suffered only a 0.2% Sunday decline, while Avengers: AoU shaved just 11%.

These numbers might not bode well for a studio who's put nearly $400m into production and marketing, only to see its initial numbers fall short. It also spells potential trouble from those who might have skipped the long lines to read social media reviews that weren't exactly raving. The real test will come next weekend, when two important elements will come into play.

The first is that next week's numbers will not include a Thursday premiere, something that counts against every film in its sophomore week. That may not sound bad, until you consider that BVSDOJ enjoyed a huge $27.7m injection that simply won't be there. Secondly, such negative comments by both critics and the public - that CinemaScore rating is key - could translate into quite a drop, especially when you use the standard 60% as a benchmark for most films. So, doing the math works out to a second week haul of just $56m, a %66.2 change.

How does that compare to other recent superhero films? Avengers: Age of Ultron and Man of Steel saw 59.4% and 64.6% second-weekend drops respectively. BvS' number could be even higher than the 66.2%, based on whether that core audience of superhero fans decide to stay home rather than catch the melee again, or if the curious merely stay home to wait for its impending Blu-ray release. It's hard to imagine, but the entire WB franchise could lie in the balance if its second-week numbers approach anything higher than that magical 60%.

Discuss this story with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

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