ByBox Office Breakdown, writer at
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Box Office Breakdown

At the beginning of 2016, it seemed that Captain America: Civil War and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice would be in a close race at the box office. Both had iconic heroes sorting out their ideological differences with their fists, and were being released on weekends barren of any competition. Now, however, after both films have opened wide, Civil War has emerged as the clear winner. The film is already at 705m worldwide, despite only being out for a week, and although it technically hasn’t passed Batman v Superman yet, unless every cinema across the globe spontaneously combusts within the next week, it’s going to. But let’s look at why this film is doing so much better than its DC counterpart. Here are five reasons Civil War outgrossed Batman v Superman:

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1. It Opened Bigger

In a pure numbers sense, Civil War was already 2 steps ahead of BvS out the gate, or 13m steps if you want to get specific. DC may have topped the opening weekend of all 3 Dark Knights films with Batman v Superman, but it was still bested by Marvel, as the MCU movie made 179m against BvS’s 166m.

Opening isn’t everything, but if it does turn out that Civil War’s legs are shorter than Batman v Superman’s (not matter how unlikely that may be) it will still be able to scrape past it at the domestic box office. And that’s a worst case scenario, more than likely Civil War could even come close to doubling the films gross because of this opening. So this forward momentum is what’s going to push it further than BvS, no matter what happens, guaranteeing Civil War’s box office victory over the film.

2. It Had Better Reviews

I’ve written extensively about just how bad Batman v Superman’s reviews actually were, but I’m going to clarify it again. Not only were they terrible for a superhero movie, they were exceptionally bad for a summer movie on the whole. The movie sits at 28% on Rotten Tomatoes, a lower score than many traditionally “bad” blockbuster movies of the past, such as 2 of the Transformers films, Terminator Salvation, and, ironically, Daredevil. It wasn’t just a disliked film, it was absolutely panned, with an awful 4.9/10 average from over 330 critics.

Civil War sits on almost the polar opposite critical spectrum. It was acclaimed by critics, boasting an impressive 90% on RT as well as an 7.6/10 average. It holds a higher Metascore than The Avengers, The Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron, and even received a 5 star review from Empire Magazine. Even if the audience has no connection to either DC or Marvel, with just one look the reviews they would know Civil War was the one to choose.

Disney, 2016
Disney, 2016

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3. It Had a More Established Franchise

Batman may be one of the most established and well loved characters in modern cinema, but this is the first time this version of him has been introduced, and only the second time this new DCEU has been presented. Man of Steel didn’t exactly get this universe off to a flying start, and even if it had, they would still be more than a dozen movies behind Civil War.

Unlike DC, who have been forced through corporate mandates to cram every single character into their second film, the MCU has had 8 years, and 12 films, to build audience goodwill with its characters and universe. I know the Internet may say otherwise, but the MCU has never had a film that was critically panned (no movie has ever gone below 60% on Rotten Tomatoes). When one of these films comes out, it’s not just another superhero movie, it’s another chapter in an increasingly popular series with an impeccable track record. DC just doesn’t have that, giving another reason why Civil War drew in such a bigger audience.

4. It Had Bigger Mass Appeal

Although Batman fighting Superman is a premise that seems irresistible to mainstream audiences, the film itself had a number of issues that may have kept some people away. Firstly, the film is both incredibly grim and violent, showing multiple scenes of death and destruction, and providing little in the way of humour and levity. This could easily have turned off multiple children (or parents thinking to bring their children) to the film, cutting out a huge potential market. Secondly, the film is complicated in a way that people without knowledge of DC (or Man of Steel) may struggle to understand, again turning people off.

Civil War doesn’t have these issues, its marketing may deal with some adult themes, but it still shows it’s a fun and light action film, with lots of comic relief from characters like Spiderman (Talking of Spiderman, that character alone would have drawn in a huge crowd). Also, it works on its own without previous knowledge of the MCU, and uses a straight forward and easy to follow storyline. Simply as films, Civil War is just more appealing than Batman v Superman, leading to its much bigger gross.

5. Better Audience Perception

Now critical reviews don’t really mean anything without word of mouth, but it seems Civil War won at this race as well. Batman v Superman doesn’t necessarily have a terrible reputation amongst audiences, it has a decent B Cinemascore, and still clings to a 7.1/10 on IMDB (Thanks, DC Fanboys)

It’s just that Civil War’s audience perception is so, so much better. It has a 92% audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.5/10 on IMDB, the highest by far for any MCU movie, and a score which places it as the 75th best film of all time. If that wasn’t enough, it holds an A Cinemascore, in line with Avengers: Age of Ultron. In a world where word of mouth is everything, Civil War had a huge advantage over Batman v Superman, an advantage that no doubt allowed it to draw in a much bigger market.

Why do you think Civil War outgrossed Batman v Superman? What are your opinions of both films? Talk about it in the comments below, and, if you enjoyed this post, follow this page to see when I make a new one.


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