Box-Office Preview: Can 'Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice' Fly Past $150M in U.S. Debut?

Batman vs. Superman Still - H 2016
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Batman vs. Superman Still - H 2016

Tracking is huge for the movie, which opens in virtually every corner of the globe this week in order to take advantage of the Easter holiday.

The DC Comics Universe is about to be unleashed, hoping to rival the blockbuster success of Marvel Studios.

Zack Snyder's Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice begins its box-office assault this week in virtually every corner of the globe, including a coveted day-and-date release in China. The $250 million tentpole hits some European markets midweek before beginning to rollout in North America on Thursday night in roughly 3,800 theaters. By Friday, it will be playing in north of 4,000 locations.

The tentpole introduces Ben Affleck as the newest Batman opposite Henry Cavill's Superman, as well as Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and lays the groundwork for Justice League, as well as a number of superhero spinoffs. For Warner Bros., the stakes are enormous after seeing its fortunes fade at the box office over the past two years.

Dawn of Justice boasts huge interest in prerelease tracking, suggesting an opening of $150 million or more in North America. Some believe that number could climb much higher, considering the R-rated Deadpool, based on a lesser-known superhero, posted a four-day debut of $152.2 million over Presidents Day weekend in February, including a three-day gross of $132.4 million.

"You can't deny the truth: Batman v. Superman is everything for the DC. The fate of an entire universe literally hangs in the balance. You don't throw down your most iconic characters without going all in. This is break or bust," says box-office analyst Jeff Bock. "My prediction is $180 million."

Warners is pulling out all the stops in terms of the movie's rollout. It will play in every format possible, including 3D and 2D, and will be on Imax and premium large-format screens.

Globally, there's no telling how high Dawn of Justice could open. In summer 2015, Jurassic World — which likewise opened day-and-date everywhere, including China — pulled in a record $524.9 million, including $208.8 million domestically and $99 million in China. Warner Bros. cautions that Jurassic World had the advantage of opening in summer; plus, it's more family-friendly and ran two hours and four minutes. Dawn of Justice runs two hours and 31 minutes, meaning fewer show times.

In December, Star Wars: The Force Awakens trumped Jurassic World with a global launch of $529 million, fueled by $248 million in North America (it didn't open in China until later).

Among superhero movies, Disney and Marvel Studios' The Avengers (2012) holds the record for the top opening with $207.4 million domestically. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) is next with $191 million, followed by Iron Man 3 (2013) with $174.1 million, The Dark Knight Rises (2012) with $160.9 million, The Dark Knight (2008) with $158.4 million, Spider-Man 3 (2007) with $151.1 million and Deadpool's three-day take of $132.4 million.

The other movie daring to open opposite Dawn of Justice is the long-awaited My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, which hopes to draw older women and men not so interested in feuding superheroes. Tracking suggests the sequel from Universal will open in the $10 million-$15 million range. Gold Circle Entertainment and Playtone produced the film.