After several major delays over the past couple of years, The Batman starring Robert Pattinson and Zoe Kravitz has finally opened in theaters. Initial reviews have been generally positive for the first standalone Batman film in a decade, with its score currently on Rotten Tomatoes currently standing at a "certified fresh" 85%. Warner Bros. seems to have another hit on its hands critically.
The film takes place two years into Bruce Wayne's journey as Batman as Gotham takes on a new enemy: the Riddler (played by Paul Dano). Pattinson is joined by a stellar cast, including Colin Farrell as the Penguin, Jeffery Wright as Jim Gordon, and Andy Serkis as Alfred.
Now that The Batman has hit the big screen, the results are in for how well it's performing amongst North Americans.
The Batman Making Box Office History
Variety revealed that Matt Reeves' The Batman opened to a healthy $128.5M at the domestic box office. That is the biggest debut in 2022 so far and makes The Batman only the second film to make $100M or more opening weekend since the pandemic began (Spider-Man: No Way Home made $260M opening weekend).
Robert Pattinson's debut film as the Dark Knight also represents Warner Bros.'s first major release to open exclusively in theaters since 2020. The Batman's $128.M haul is more than any WB movie has made during the pandemic era. James Gunn's The Suicide Squad only made $55.8M during its run at the domestic box office and Denis Villeneuve's Dune made $108M.
The Batman is also the fifth largest opening for any DC Comics film and Warner Bros.'s first $100M opening since IT in 2017. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad are the only two DCEU films that performed better at the opening box office.
This opening performance by The Batman actually comes in lower than many industry projections, but very little competition awaits the Caped Crusader during the rest of March.
Is The Batman a Success?
The short answer: not yet.
$128M is an admirable start, something that was never seen in 2020 or 2021 (besides No Way Home). However, this is arguably DC's most valuable IP. Batman has been a monetary success (for the most part) since 1989's Batman made $251M at the domestic box office, the most of that year. The Dark Knight Rises and Joker were both $1B films at the global box office. The Dark Knight just missed the coveted $1B, grossing $998.6 worldwide.
Fast-forward to The Batman starting out 2022, which is looked at as the first year of the pandemic era that will be affected the least by audience health and safety concerns. DC has a lot invested in this year; Black Adam, The Flash, and Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom are all still set to be released in 2022.
As previously mentioned, The Batman's opening performance isn't mind-blowing. Upper-end projections had this film bringing in $150-170M during this opening weekend. That would've given it a chance to have the biggest opening in Batman movie history.
Here's a look at how all the Batman movies have performed domestically opening weekend:
- Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice - $166M
- The Dark Knight Rises - $160.8M
- The Dark Knight - $158.4M
- The Batman - $128.5M
- Joker - $96.2M
- The LEGO Batman Movie - $53M
- Batman Forever - $52.7M
- Batman Begins - $48.7M
- Batman Returns - $45.6M
- Batman and Robin - $42.8M
- Batman - $40.4M
What is promising for the rest of The Batman's run at the box office is that there isn't much competition until April 1, when Jared Leto's Morbius releases in theaters. This film should dominate the month of March and put together an impressive box office run, setting up future sequels.
What is working against Reeves' noir-styled Dark Knight flick is that it pushes the boundaries of PG-13, it's nearly three hours long, and fans could wait to see it on HBO Max in 45 days.
Similar to the rest of the Batman films listed above, their success isn't determined on opening weekend. The Batman could become a huge global hit, and bring North American audiences back for various viewings. The gritty DC story may not be quite as appealing as Marvel's Spider-Man: No Way Home, but it could be another example for film studios to not quit on the movie theaters and give them more confidence with their most valuable IPs.
The Batman is now playing worldwide exclusively in theaters.