‘The Batman’ Scores $128 Million, Second-Biggest Pandemic Debut

Holy ticket sales, Batman!

Robert Pattinson’s pitch-black superhero adventure “The Batman” collected a mighty $128.5 million from 4,417 North American theaters in its box office debut, marking the best opening weekend of 2022 by a landslide. More impressively, it’s only the second pandemic-era movie to cross the $100 million mark in a single weekend, a feat first achieved by “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and its huge $260 million launch in December.

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Thanks to positive reviews, strong reception from ticket buyers and high levels of intrigue to see Pattinson’s moody take on the Caped Crusader, “The Batman” is shaping up to be a commercial winner for Warner Bros. That’s good news because the studio shelled out a hefty $200 million to produce the film and spent many millions more in marking and distribution costs. Bringing Batman to the big screen doesn’t come cheap, and achieving profitability won’t be easy.

At the international box office, “The Batman” earned $120 million from 74 overseas market, taking its global tally to a strong $248.5 million. Warner Bros. pulled the movie’s release in Russia following the country’s invasion of Ukraine last week.

“It’s fun to see the public really embrace the movie,” says Jeff Goldstein, the president of domestic distribution at Warner Bros. “Since the movie is three hours long, it became appointment viewing. That bodes well for its run on the big screen. It helps that the word of mouth is so strong.”

“The Batman” also likely benefitted because the comic book adaptation is playing exclusively in theaters. For Warner Bros., which opted to debut its entire 2021 theatrical film slate simultaneously on HBO Max, “The Batman” marks a deviation as the studio’s first movie since Christoper Nolan’s twisty thriller “Tenet “(which coincidentally also starred Pattinson) that’s only available to watch in cinemas. “The Batman” lands on HBO Max in 45 days.

It’s impossible to know the exact box office impact of putting movies day-and-date on streaming, but “The Batman” has generated more money in its opening weekend than any other Warner Bros. pandemic-era releases grossed in their entire theatrical runs. Prior to “The Batman,” the studio’s highest grossing movies since March 2020 were “Godzilla vs. Kong” ($100 million in North America) and “Dune” ($109 million in North America).

Of course, it helps that “The Batman” has the glittery promise of a former “Twilight” heartthrob taking on one of the most famous comic book characters in history. But there were plenty of factors that could have worked against a different, less-embraced version of “The Batman.” For one, it clocks in at three hours, which is a long sit for even the biggest movie-lover. Not to mention, the logistics of its lengthy running time meant that theater operators had to limit the number of showtimes per day. Lucky for “The Batman,” there was limited competition on movie theater marquees.

Since “The Batman,” directed by Matt Reeves, notched a PG-13 rating rather than R, the film was able to capture the key demographic of younger males, who have been fueling the domestic box office’s wobbly recovery. More than 65% of opening weekend crowds were male, and more than 60% were between 18 and 34 years old. “The Batman” did especially solid sales on Imax screens, which accounted for $22.3 million of the film’s global total.

“In its first theatrical exclusive blockbuster release in more than a year, Warner Bros. proved the power of a theatrical-first approach, and that great execution on a creative launch plan is the best way to drive long-term value,” said Rich Gelfond, CEO of Imax.

In addition to Pattinson, “The Batman” stars Paul Dano as the Riddler, Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman, Andy Serkis as Batman’s butler Alfred Pennyworth and Colin Farrell as a crime lord known as Penguin. By focusing on Bruce Wayne’s alter ego as “the world’s greatest detective,” reviews noted the film feels more like a gritty noir than an escapist superhero adventure. Fans seemed to be fond of that approach, awarding the movie an “A-” CinemaScore.

Prior to this weekend, Tom Holland’s video game adaptation “Uncharted” held the title for the biggest opening weekend of the year with $44 million in initial sales. “The Batman,” based on a far more ubiquitous property, beat that benchmark after earning $57 million on opening day alone. Yet “Uncharted,” which is still playing in theaters, managed to bring in solid business despite the outsized attention for “The Batman.” In second place, the Sony Pictures film pocketed $11 million from 3,875 theaters between Friday and Sunday, pushing “Uncharted” past $100 million at the domestic box office. Overseas, the PG-13 “Uncharted” added another $17.4 million from 64 foreign markets. Those revenues take the film to $171.3 million internationally and $271.5 million globally. “Uncharted” carries a $120 million price tag.

Elsewhere, Channing Tatum’s canine adventure “Dog” landed at No. 3 with $6 million from 3,507 theaters. The road-trip buddy comedy is somewhat of an anomaly because it has managed to entice audiences without involving superheroes or intense CG-action sequences. “Dog” continues to surprise at the box office, crossing $40 million in North America over the weekend. In COVID-19 times, it’s a promising result for a $15 million-budgeted film.

Holdovers “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Death on the Nile” took spots four and five on domestic box office charts.

The third Spidey installment with Holland brought in $4.4 million over the weekend, boosting its domestic tally to a towering $786.4 million. In an especially rare feat, “No Way Home” has managed to stay within the top five on domestic rankings since the film premiered in December. It’s also the third weekend in a row that two Holland-led tentpoles have been among the top four movies at the weekend box office.

Disney and 20th Century’s murder mystery “Death on the Nile” grossed $2.7 million between Friday and Sunday. After four weekends on the big screen, the movie has earned just $37.1 million in North America. Directed by Kenneth Branagh, who stars in the movie alongside Armie Hammer, Gal Gadot and Letitia Wright, “Death on the Nile” cost $90 million to produce.

David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research, praised the assortment of genres — superhero, comedy, family, action, romantic comedy — on box office charts. Other movies in the top 10 include Universal’s animated musical sequel “Sing 2” ($1.5 million over the weekend, $153 million to date), Paramount’s slapstick adventure “Jackass Forever” ($1.3 million over the weekend, $54.4 million to date) and director Joe Wright’s romantic drama “Cyrano” ($680.00 over the weekend, $2.5 million to date).

“This weekend’s top-10 chart looks as good as it has in a long time,” Gross says. “[It] means audiences are diversifying. COVID continues to drop and warmer weather is coming — momentum should build now.”

That’s certainly the hope since Hollywood is keeping the summer schedule stacked with Jared Leto’s anti-hero adventure “Morbius” (April 1), Marvel’s “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness” (May 6), “Top Gun: Maverick” (May 27) and “Jurassic World Dominion” (June 10). It’s the kind of slate that should have movie theaters sizzling.

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