Japan Box Office: 'Batman v. Superman' Beaten by Two Local Films

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Still 9 - H 2016
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Still 9 - H 2016

New action comedy 'Assassination Classroom: Graduation' and 'Doraemon' in its fourth weekend pushed the superhero film into the No. 3 spot, despite a $4.4 million opening.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice lost its opening weekend battle in Japan to Assassination Classroom: Graduation, a new local action-comedy manga adaptation sequel, and the latest Doraemon anime film, now in its fourth weekend.

Batman v. Superman took in $4.4 million over three days (and $3.3 million from 231,000 admissions at 717 screens on Saturday and Sunday alone), compared with $5.6 million from 545,000 admissions on only 319 screens for Assassination Classroom over two days, according to Japanese box-office data company Kogyo Tsushinsha.

Despite only mustering third place, Batman v. Superman was still the biggest opening for a DC Entertainment title in Japan.

Assassination Classroom was already tracking ahead of the DC tentpole, released on Friday, in online bookings despite not opening until Saturday. As of 9 p.m. Friday, one tracking site had Assassination Classroom on 120,000 recent online bookings, compared with fewer than 50,000 for Batman v. Superman. Other rankings had the gap even wider, with the local film ahead as much as three to one.

The first Assassination Classroom film took in ?2.77 billion ($24.5 million) in Japan last year. By way of comparison, Man of Steel finished just shy of $9 million in 2013, while Batman Begins collected $12.4 million locally in 2005.

Recent Hollywood superhero blockbusters have also failed to set the local box office on fire, with Avengers: Age of Ultron bringing in $26 million last year, proportionally below its performance in other major markets. While Warner Bros. execs probably won't be losing too much sleep given the superhero-sized, critics-defying $424 million global opening, they may have hoped for a slightly better bow in the world's third-largest theatrical market.

Assassination Classroom is based on a manga series that sold more than 17 million copies and tells the story of a junior high school teacher who is actually an alien set to destroy Earth unless he is killed by one of his students.

The Doraemon film is the 36th in the franchise, which in 2013 overtook Godzilla to become the most-watched in Japanese cinematic history, with more than 100 million admissions. Last year, Stand by Me Doraemon became the first Japanese film since 2012 to be released in China, where it took in more than $100 million.