Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Reel Opinion: The DAWN OF JUSTICE Aftermath


 
This past weekend, one of the most anticipated superhero films of all time finally landed in theatres, with Warner Bros’. latest adaptation of a DC Comics property, BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. The film easily won the domestic box office with a hefty $166 million.

But there are troubled waters underneath that shiny, six-digit money figure. A recent article by Forbes (HERE) points out that DAWN OF JUSTICE displayed the biggest drop between Friday and Sunday of any superhero movie to date; falling 55% from $82 million to $37 million.

How is it that a movie featuring two of the most popular iconic superheroes of all time, topped off with by a third (Wonder Woman) can suddenly struggle to bring people in? The first and obvious thing to look at is, is the movie any good? Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 28% of 278 reviews were positive, with an average rating of 5/10, and Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews from mainstream critics, gave the film an average score of 44/100, based on 51 critics (read Reel Speak’s review HERE).

Contrary to popular belief, superhero movies are not made exclusively for fans who dwell in comic book shops. Studios have to get the general public in the door because that’s where the real money is and determine if a film will have legs past its opening weekend. Reviews that were not very favorable have clearly led to bad word-of-mouth on the street, which is likely keeping the average viewer away.

There may be other factors involved. The decision to release on an Easter holiday weekend is questionable (did no one at Warner Bros. have access to a calendar?), and keeping the same creative team intact from MAN OF STEEL, the predecessor to DAWN OF JUSTICE, which was also met with mixed reviews, may have also been a factor (fool me once…). There are also theories that the world is growing tired of superhero films, and the term superhero-fatigue is being tossed around a lot. After all, there are now three major studios releasing several super-films a year (Warner Bros., Disney, and Fox), which averages out to a new flick every other month. But we only have to look at Fox’s recent release, DEADPOOL, which recently became the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time, to see that people can and will still come. Why did DEADPOOL succeed where Batman and Superman are struggling? Because DEADPOOL was a better movie (84% positive on RT, 65/100 on Metacritic). So note to Warner Bros., if you want better success, make better movies.

Filmmaking is an art, but it’s also a business and an industry; an industry that employs hundreds and thousands of jobs and careers. Long-time lovers of cinema usually don’t actively hope for a movie to fail, but in this case there has to be some silent applauding for the struggle of DAWN OF JUSTICE; especially for committed fans of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman…who most certainly feel a bit cheated after this decades-long wait to see their beloved trio come together in a bad movie. Warner Bros. would be wise to use DAWN OF JUSTICE as a learning experience; to figure out what works, what doesn’t, and what will draw people to the theatre…and most importantly, learn how to make a good film.

What say you?


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