Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is poised to conquer the box office in the US for the third straight weekend.
But beneath the cape, tights, and superhero armour lies a mere mortal.
Batman v Superman, one of the most expensive films ever made, is on pace to produce a $278m (€244m) profit for Warner Bros after home video, TV, and merchandise proceeds are tallied, according to SNL Kagan analyst Wade Holden.
However, that is less than the estimated $300m the studio earned from Man Of Steel.
It is also evidence that Warner Bros has more work to do to make its DC Comics division the unbreakable superhero movie business it needs.
“I’m sure that it’s a bit of a disappointment,” Mr Holden said.
“They were probably hoping for box-office numbers similar to Avengers: Age of Ultron, since Batman v Superman had DC’s three most well-known comic book heroes together in the same movie.”
Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman all feature in the two-and-a-half-hour blockbuster.
DC characters are a cornerstone of Warner Bros’ film slate through 2020, along with Lego features and a new wizard series from Harry Potter author JK Rowling.
The studio, part of Time Warner, is banking on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to serve as a launching pad for 11 more films and help win over fans who have flocked to Walt Disney’s Marvel films.
To be sure, Batman v Superman set a record for a DC Comics movie and marked the studio’s second biggest debut ever, after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, according to Box Office Mojo.
It also topped the previous record for a March weekend debut in North America, set by the The Hunger Games in 2012, a possible reflection of pent-up demand among hardcore fans of DC Comics.
Warner Bros executives say they are pleased with the performance of the film and would not have announced two more DC pictures this week if they weren’t. The movie is poised to become one of just 50 or so to cross $300m at the domestic box office.
Their boss, Time Warner chief executive officer Jeff Bewkes, has said 2016 will be a turnaround year for the studio’s film division.
To be as profitable as the lower-budget Man of Steel — and some of the more successful Marvel films, which generate 44% net profit on average — Batman v Superman would have to gross $1.15bn worldwide, Holden estimates. Age of Ultron earned $853m, he estimates.
Last weekend, Batman v Superman brought in $51.3m at the US box office, helped by a lack of competition. The 69% drop from its opening was steeper than the average 60% decline for past superhero films such as Iron Man 3.
Unlike summer superhero pictures, Batman v Superman had to contend with kids back at school in its second week.
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