I have seen repeated articles now about the terrible and significant drop in ticket sales for Batman versus Superman in its second week. If you read these, one thing you’ll notice about every one of these articles, they always speak in percentages. 81% drop! It’s over! That’s the thing, They have to speak in percentages. BvS made $52.4 million in it’s second weekend. If the critics speak in total dollars, there is no disguising the fact that despite its “Plunging ticket sales “Batman versus Superman is still out-grossing films that are coming out for their first week. How many movies would give their eye teeth for a $52.4 million opening weekend? How many would kill to make that in thier second week? And we’ll just ignore the fact that BvS is rapidly closing in on the $700 million mark.
I had hoped that this particular tactic was done – they tried it first by examining the drop in ticket sales on Sunday… Easter Sunday. Monday and Tuesday Batman versus Superman went back to setting box office records. However, the media is so committed to this narrative, that when Batman versus Superman failed to generate another half billion dollars in it’s second weekend the story is sprung right back up. Sales are plunging!
Notice how everybody is using the same keyword? Ticket sales are “plunging”. It’s in every headline, every blog, every editorial. Its evidence of media group think and over reliance on outlets like AP. There’s not a lot of original thought going on here but rather we are seeing a lot of people jumping on the same bandwagon. We’re more used to seeing this kind of bias and consensus in political reporting rather than in entertainment, but it’s fascinating to watch those same principles applied here. Critics hated Batman v Superman, and a lot more then the fans did. Critics want this movie to fail – to die. The Superhero movie has gotten to uppity, and besides, only Marvel is allowed to do that and they feel compelled to do thier best to put it in it’s place. The general public dosen’t quite seem to agree. More fans seem to like it then hate it and most were smack dab in the middle feeling somewhat ambivalent. What the different numbers in ticket sales this weekend really speaks to, is two things – firstly the obvious. It is no longer opening weekend. This is significant, because Batman versus Superman was an event film. People were going to go see it the first weekend – either that or risk of being spoiled on the Internet.
The second thing at play here is something I noted in my review – rewatchability. There are some people absolutely love this and are going to see it twice, but I think the vast majority of viewers are only going to be able to handle this film once. This isn’t necessarily a negative, I’ve only ever seen Forrest Gump once – there’s just no rewatchability there for me either. So the drop in ticket sales, while still healthy shows that people are not going to see this two or three or four times. It also shows that everybody without the first weekend, and only a few stragglers remaining.
Why am I so adamant about this? Why do I feel the need to speak out about this? Because the critics are trying to shape public opinion – not report on it. That’s not the job of journalists, and it frustrates me when I see it happening. Batman v Superman is not Oscar fodder (though I think Zach Snyder actually believed he was making high art– someone should probably tell him that he wasn’t) but it’s not worth othe dismal rotten tomatoes score it has – although I find it interesting just how inverse the relationship between the critical score and the viewer score is. I’ll stick with the viewers. Unlike the critics, they aren’t trying to sway anybody.
Final thought – Bad movies just go away. People complain about them and forget about them. Everybody is talking about Batman v Superman, and everybody has seen it. Every person I meet asks me if I saw it and what was my opinion. Compare this to the recent fantastic four – sure we talked about it, we complained about it, but nobody went to see it. Nobody talks about it any more, except to use it as a yardstick for the worst superhero films ever made. Batman versus Superman has sparked discussion and it’s penetrated the public consciousness and is already a success.
No matter what the critics want you to believe.