It’s fair to say that Warner Bros. and all involved with the making of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice felt more than a little stung by its overwhelmingly negative reception by critics last week (we even got Sad Affleck, the year’s best viral video yet, out of it), but the gargantuan blockbuster doesn’t seem to have been impacted at the box office too badly, taking in a huge $170 million this past weekend. And in its post-release statements about the pivotal, Zack Snyder-directed film, the studio has been focusing almost exclusively on the movie’s financial success, not its bad word-of-mouth.
“There is no question this is an extraordinary achievement,” WB’s domestic distribution chief Jeff Goldstein said. “Clearly, audiences have embraced it and we are already seeing repeat business. It’s just fun. Often, there’s a disconnect between critics and audiences. It doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s just an enjoyable afternoon at the movies.”
Goldstein also told TheWrap, “When you swing for the bleachers and connect, it’s a tremendous feeling. This felt like we were launching several films, so to come through like this makes all of us very proud.”
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Essentially, despite the reviews, Goldstein is viewing this as an unmitigated triumph. His comments about “repeat business” are interesting, though – the movie ended up with a B CinemaScore rating, which doesn’t seem that bad until you consider that the same grade was handed to Catwoman and Green Lantern, two films reviled throughout the comic-book world, even and especially among hardcore fanboys.
In coming weekends, it will be very telling how significantly the film’s haul drops – will general audiences really stick around to keep seeing this thing after sitting through it once? Some certainly will, but it would be surprising, given that rating, to see it hold up extremely well.
This entire release has been a fascinating one to consider from a film criticism perspective. Goldstein is right that “there’s a disconnect between critics and audiences” if your points of comparison are the film’s Rotten Tomatoes score and its opening weekend gross, but Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice has highlighted some deeper questions about the nature of criticism and who movies are “made for,” to use a phrase co-star Amy Adams uttered during an interview after the first wave of reviews hit the web. Watching how the discourse continues as the film gets past its opening weekend is sure to be mightily entertaining.