Comic book films have dominated the box office for the past few years. Gone are the days when superhero movies were financial risks. Now, live-action superhero adaptations are staples in cinema as studios scramble to find their next big hit in the pages of beloved comic books.
Looking at this, what Warner Bros. Animation has done with their DC Animated Original Movies is nothing short of impressive. The films, mostly adaptations of famous comic book storylines, have managed to thrive in a live action, superhero film-driven industry. Proof of that is the recently released Batman: The Killing Joke.
When Batman: The Killing Joke was confirmed to be rated R, anticipation for it went through the roof, encouraging Warner Bros. to give the adaption a one-day run in theaters. However, demand for it was so high that its theatrical run was extended to two days.
On July 26, 2016, the film arrived on home video and in 1,325 theaters around the world. And while its critical reception has been somewhat disappointing, its box office numbers haven't. According to Box Office Mojo, the movie earned an impressive $3.175 million on its first day. To put it into perspective, The Killing Joke had an average earning per screen of $2,396, compared to Star Trek: Beyond's $1,592 screen average — so, pretty impressive for an animated movie.
What The Killing Joke's Success Could Mean For Future DC Animated Movies
One thing to note is that the last animated film with which Warner Bros. took their chances at the box office, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, earned a mediocre $5.6 million on a $6 million budget.
Considering Batman: The Killing Joke had an estimated $3.5 million budget — an amount the film won back almost entirely during its first day in theaters — and that the average DC Animated Original Movie earns an approximate $4 million with only Blu-ray and DVD sales, it may give Warner Bros. more confidence on giving future animated films a chance at similar short theatrical runs.
Let's keep in mind that the film has a bit longer in theaters: Will its final earnings surprise us even more or will the bad critical reception hurt its chances? We'll have to wait and see.