Here is the “best-case scenario” box office prediction for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will be playing around the world by March 26th courtesy of Warner Bros/Time Warner Inc. It apparently premieres in LA on March 20th (“Take that, Netflix’s Daredevil!”) and slowly will expand around the world over the course of the week heading into its Thursday night domestic debut and its 03/25/16 debut in China, Japan and elsewhere. The film is opening so quickly around the world presumably because Walt Disney’s Captain America: Civil War starts its worldwide debut (in France and Brazil among other territories) on April 27th, meaning the Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel only have about a month before Iron Man and Captain America arrive on the scene.
Okay, the best case scenario is that the film is A) really good, or at least really entertaining, and B) absolutely scores among the fandom and general moviegoers. That means a sky-high opening weekend, solid legs leading into the summer season, and a strong overseas performance. In other words, the reception is less All-Star Batman & Robin and more All-Star Superman (or finally, at long last, Superman: Birthright).
Maybe Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman steals the show and leaves fans salivating for next year’s solo prequel movie while the Aquaman cameo is (truly, truly) outrageous. Maybe Jessie Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is a completely successful reinvention on par with John Byrne’s post-Crisis revamp, while Ben Affleck provides a unique and engaging variation on the Dark Knight. Maybe the grimdark marketing is hiding a movie that is gloriously over-the-top variation not on Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns but rather Challenge of the Super Friends or Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Maybe the whole film clicks as a muscular piece of overblown superhero popcorn entertainment, with less of a requirement to somewhat resemble Chris Nolan’s (generally excellent) Dark Knight films and more freedom to let Snyder’s fantastical freak-flag fly.
Whatever the case, in this situation the film brings it home in glorious popcorn fashion, maybe even operating on a politically subtextual level as well. I can’t be the only one who sees the film as-advertised as a giant metaphor for the Democratic primaries, with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debating which one is more “evil,” while Donald Trump sits in a corner creating his doomsday Cruz missile. But no matter, if the film works here and abroad, what are we looking at box office-wise? Under this specific Elseworld, the film is not indifferently received as a Man of Steel 2 but with much excitement as an honest-to-goodness Justice League prologue.
If The Hunger Games can score $152 million (in 2D) on this weekend and Furious 7 can snag $147m (in 2D) in the first weekend of April, a well-received and much-buzzed-about Dawn of Justice in 3D can potentially make a go of $175m on its opening weekend. That’s a 36% increase over Man of Steel‘s $128m debut weekend, which frankly isn’t that crazy of a jump (20th Century Fox’s X2: X-Men United jumped 57% while Paramount/Viacom Inc.’s Iron Man 2 jumped 25% respectively). But since this is a specific Earth is the brightest timeline, let’s go nuts and predict a $200m opening weekend for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Also, it makes the math easier.
What happens next is that the film hits a nerve in the cultural zeitgeist, for whatever reason you can imagine (maybe the movie is every bit as inspirational as that last Man of Steel trailer). At this point, we’re looking at comparative weekend-to-final multipliers that apply in this situation. Specifically, we’re looking at The Hunger Games which opened with $152 million on this weekend and legged it to $409m domestic (2.69x) as well as Captain America: The Winter Soldier which opened with $94m in April of 2014 and legged it to $259m domestic (2.75x). Furious 7 opened with $147m last April but snagged a “mere” 2.4x multiplier for a still-crazy-good $353m domestic total. Also, for comparison, The Dark Knight snagged a crazy-good 3.37x off a then-record $158m weekend while The Dark Knight Rises snagged a 2.86x multiplier off a record-for-2D $160m debut weekend.
If Dawn of Justice snags $200 million on opening weekend and ends up with a similar 2.75x multiplier it ends up with $550m domestic by the time Memorial Day rolls around. Heck, if it plays like The Dark Knight Rises (2.86x) or The Dark Knight (3.37x), we’re looking at an insane $572m or $674m domestic total. But even in this best-case scenario, I cannot in good conscious even suggest that the film is going to top Titanic, so let’s keep it at 2.86x a $200m debut for a $572m total. Again, we’re in fantasy land here, but bear with me.Batman movies tend to do around 53%-55% of their worldwide gross in America. The good news is that the last two high-profile DC Comics movies, Man of Steel and The Dark Knight Rises, earned 56% and 58% of their respective worldwide totals overseas.
So, with the presumption that we’re dealing with the brightest possible day (as opposed to the blackest possible night), let’s assume a US/overseas split similar to not The Dark Knight Rises but rather Captain America: The Winter Soldier which earned 63.6% of its $714 million bounty overseas. So with this scenario Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens with $200m and legs it like Dark Knight Rises (2.86x) all the way to $572m domestic and then snags a 64%/32% overseas/domestic split. That means it makes another $1.215b overseas for a $1.787 billion worldwide total.So, hell yeah! "Box office will BLEED"
Now to be fair, if you’re playing somewhat realistic “best case scenario,” we’re probably looking at something closer to said $200 million opening, with Captain America: The Winter Soldier legs (2.75x), and a Man of Steel-like 55/45 overseas/America split. That means $550m domestic + $673m overseas = $1.223 billion worldwide. If you really want to get nuts and be utterly irresponsible, then c’mon and let’s get nuts (and be utterly irresponsible)! For the record the scenario I’m about to offer is in no way, shape, or form an actual prediction for the film’s box office fate. Got that? Okay… Throw in that Dark Knight domestic multiplier (3.37x) from a $200 million opening weekend and then add in the 76/24 split from Universal/Comcast Corp.’s Furious 7. Watch this…. $674m + $2.134b = $2.808 billion worldwide.
Okay, being somewhat plausible, let’s set the best-case-scenario as follows: Good reviews, strong audience interest in both the film and whatever comes next in the DC Extended Universe, coupled with a $200 million opening weekend and a multiplier reminiscent of The Dark Knight Rises and the overseas/US split of fellow spring champion Captain America: The Winter Soldier. So that would give the film a jaw-dropping $1.787 billion worldwide, which would make the film obscenely profitable even if it did really cost $400m to produce.
These are not predictions, just highly speculative “fun with math” guestimations using relevant precedents and potential outcomes stemming from a few unknown variables (namely the quality of the film and the public’s reaction to it). But yeah, there is more than enough material to play around with tomorrow for a “realistic” prediction, so come back tomorrow for one more go-around.
But for the moment, I am hereby predicting that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, starring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Jessie Eisenberg, Holly Hunter, Jeremy Irons, and Diane Lane, will gross $1.79 billion worldwide when it opens next month. Take that to the bank!"
*This article is written by scott mendelson @forbes.