BO Report: ‘The Batman’ sweeps to success

'The Batman'. (Photo Jonathan Olley/™ & © DC Comics, Copyright: © 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

At $11.5 million, or $12.8 million with previews, the opening weekend result for Matt Reeves’ The Batman is the second highest of the pandemic era behind Spider-Man: No Way Home.

For Warner Bros., it is the best first weekend since 2018’s Aquaman, and is 31 per cent ahead of 2019’s Joker. Released on 738 screens, The Batman averaged $15,628 per session and captured a staggering 69 per cent market share.

The film sees Robert Pattinson star as the Caped Crusader, pursuing Paul Dano’s The Riddler. Zoë Kravitz is Catwoman, Andy Serkis Batman’s butler Alfred Pennyworth, Colin Farrell Penguin and Jeffrey Wright Gotham City’s police chief James Gordon.

Opening at no. 1 in 73 territories, the film is the biggest international opener of the year. Worldwide receipts for The Batman tally $US248.5 million so far, with some $US128.5 million coming from North America. There are still major markets like Japan and China to come, where it opens March 11 and March 18 respectively.

As was the experience of many exhibitors, Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace GM Alex Temesvari tells IF the film was “easily” no. 1 at his Sydney cinema.

“The national and international result again shows that for a must see, theatrical excusive film people will turn up,” he says.

At Village Cinemas, almost all Gold Class sessions were sold out with solid admissions also across Vmax and Standard sessions. 

“As we saw with Spider-Man: No Way Home, the action/comic-book market clearly has no COVID concerns with the admissions performing similarly to pre-COVID times,” national programming manager Geoff Chard tells IF.

“Victoria as well as Tasmania and South Australia are expected to hold really well this week too with the public holiday Monday in those states.”

Audiences are seemingly undeterred by the film’s three-hour run time, but CEO of regional NSW and Queensland-based independent chain Majestic Cinemas Kieren Dell tells IF the film naturally performed best at larger sites where multiple sessions could be scheduled across more screens.

“The response to the movie was extremely positive, which augurs well for it having long legs,” he says.

“I think with restrictions coming off in many states, we are seeing a renewed confidence in returning to cinemas, especially younger and middle aged patrons, and even the older patrons are continuing to slowly return for movies like Belfast and Death on the Nile.

“Overall, while Batman dominated, it got good support from Uncharted and Belfast, leading to an overall very good weekend to start March. With not a lot of big releases until the end of the month, we will need Batman to continue to perform prior to what looks like a great April to June.”

While Melbourne’s Cinema Nova did not play The Batman, CEO Kristian Connelly found that it too had a considerable uptick on the previous weekend from audiences looking for an alternative.

Belfast, Worst Person In The World, House Of Gucci, Parallel Mothers, and Quo Vadis Aida all saw improvements of 20 per cent or more over the prior frame as other exhibitors reduced their sessions to make way for the superhero epic,” he tells IF.

Among the other new releases was Roadshow’s Monster Family 2, with the animated sequel bowing in fifth position with $401,221 ($429,211 with previews) from 257 screens.

The weekend also saw two Australian films enter the market. Michael Budd’s drama Ruby’s Choice, starring Jane Seymour, bowed to $49,456 from 108 screens ($51,431 with previews) for Radioactive Pictures, while Madman Entertainment documentary Blind Ambition, winner of the Tribeca Film Festival Audience Award, gathered $30,777 from 32 screens.

Temesvari says unfortunately Ruby’s Choice did not perform well as hoped. “A couple of weeks ago we hosted the Sydney Premiere with Jane Seymour in attendance which was a successful event but this did not translate to audience interest in season, which is a shame.”

Wallis Cinemas national programming manager David Simpson similarly tells IF that “Jane Seymour is the film’s best asset” but Ruby’s Choice “didn’t work.”

Speaking to Blind Ambition, Connelly tells IF that audience enthusiasm for documentaries has been low since cinemas reopened.

“We put it down to audiences seeking ‘escapism’ rather than ‘reality’, with upscale crowd pleasers continuing to show fantastic staying power over the past week. Sadly for Blind Ambition, this was once again the case,” he says.

According to Numero, the top 20 titles collected $16.2 million last weekend, a 73 per cent boost on the previous.

Uncharted was the weekend’s second best performer, falling 53 per cent to earn just below $2 million in its third frame. The Sony title, starring Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg, now sits on $13.5 million.

Chard says the film held incredibly well despite the release of The Batman. “This is quite a feat considering the reduction in sessions across the premium and PLF screens,” he says.

Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast continues to benefit from strong word-of-mouth, dropping only 25 per cent in its fifth outing with $421,735. That results advances Universal film, nominated for six Oscars, to $3.7 million.

Branagh’s other film in the market, Death on the Nile advanced past $5.3 million for Disney after collecting $404,323 across its fourth weekend.

Paramount’s Bollywood crime drama Gangubai Kathiawadi added $218,544 in its second frame to grow to $750,427, while Universal’s Sing 2 is still well-trafficked in its 11th, with $215,913 moving the film to $19.7 million.

Jackass Forever notched $211,310 in its fifth, advancing to $6.8 million for Paramount, while Sony’s Spider-Man: No Way Home is on $80.6 million after 12 weekends, having made another $211,120.

Rounding out the top 10 was Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson rom-com Marry Me, now on after $3.6 million after earning $190,825 in its fourth frame.