‘The Batman’ brings new hope to theaters with a big launch

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LOS ANGELES — Batman has its fair share of pressures, from rescuing Gotham to rescuing movie theaters. And though they’re both still in the works, ‘The Batman,’ starring Robert Pattinson, managed to give the two a small glimmer of hope by grossing an estimated $128.5 million in North America. from the studio on Sunday.

The latest relaunch of the 80-year-old comic book character is way above Warner Bros. conservative estimates ahead of the weekend, which had the film set for a debut in the $90 million range. It’s the best opening of 2022 and the second-best of the pandemic, though it’s still over $100 million less than “Spider-Man: No Way Home’s” still incredible $260 million opening weekend. dollars in December.

“The Batman” opened this weekend exclusively in theaters at 4,217 locations across more than 12,500 screens in North America. There were fan events on Tuesday and Wednesday leading up to Thursday’s pre-shows at around 3,300 locations. In total, as of the end of Friday, “The Batman” had already grossed $57 million. No other major studio has dared to compete with their own new movie.

Internationally, “The Batman” earned $120 million, bringing its worldwide total to $248.5 million. Warner Bros. halted its release in Russia following the country’s invasion of Ukraine, saying the company would monitor the situation as it unfolds. Many major studios have made similar decisions with their movies.

Reviews have been largely positive for this new iteration of the Caped Crusader. Director Matt Reeves and co-writer Peter Craig created “The Batman” in the second year Bruce Wayne donned the cape. Corruption is rampant in Gotham and some well-known villains aren’t fully formed yet, but there’s a serial killer in the works and Pattinson’s Batman and Gordon, played by Jeffrey Wright, are on a mission to find the mysterious Riddler (Paul Dano).

It’s been a long road for “The Batman” to hit theaters. The original plan was for it to be released in June 2021, but that has been repeatedly pushed back in part due to COVID-related production shutdowns.

The film cost around $200 million to produce, not to mention the millions spent on marketing and distribution. And a lot of things revolve around “The Batman,” with future movies and an HBO Max spin-off series both planned.

As the omicron variant skyrocketed in December, Warner Bros. was once again faced with a tough decision: delay the release further or commit to opening in March. Under the guidance of epidemiologists, in January they decided to go ahead and start spending a lot of money on marketing.

“We knew the film was exceptional. We knew the fans would accept it. But we didn’t know what the pandemic had in store for us,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros.’ president of national distribution. “Theater owners really stepped up and showed their showmanship…it really was a collective victory.”

“The Batman” is also the first film in over a year that Warner Bros. was released exclusively in theaters. In 2021, the studio adopted a hybrid release strategy debuting movies from “Dune” to “Suicide Squad” in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously, which may have helped streaming subscriptions, but not the box office or movie theatres.

“The box office is back with a bang,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. “This is a real turning point for the industry. The year at the box office went by in spurts. There have been some strong performances, but no successful breakout opening in 2022. That’s great for theaters.”

So how does Pattinson compare to his predecessors? It’s the fourth-largest opening for a Batman movie in North America. As far as lifetime profits go, only time will tell, but Batman as a billion dollar franchise is a relatively recent phenomenon.

Tim Burton’s “Batman” starring Michael Keaton and released in 1989, grossed around $252 million in North America and just over $400 million worldwide. None of the Batman movies topped $500 million worldwide until 2008. Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight,” starring Christian Bale, broke the billion-dollar mark, which repeated itself with ” The Dark Knight Rises”. The Ben Affleck/Zack Snyder era culminated with “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” which grossed $873 million worldwide.

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Estimated Friday-Sunday ticket sales at US and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final national figures will be released on Monday.

1. “The Batman,” $128.5 million.

2. “Uncharted,” $11 million.

3. “Dog”, $6 million.

4. “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” $4.4 million.

5. “Death on the Nile”, $2.7 million.

6. “Sing 2,” $1.5 million.

7. “Jackass Forever” $1.4 million.

8. “Cyrano”, $682,607.

9. “Cry”, $570,000.

10. “Marry Me,” $530,000.

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Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr

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