Batman, The: Matt Reeves PG-13 but Dark and Grim Version Aims High at Box-Office

Robert Pattinson’s Dark ‘The Batman’ Aims at $100 Million at Box-Office Debut

The Batman (2022).ROBERT PATTINSON.Credit: Jonathan Olley/Warner
Courtesy of Jonathan Olley/Warner Bros.

Though movie theater attendance has improved compared to earlier pandemic days, overall ticket sales have been slow to get box office receipts back to pre-COVID levels.

The Batman, a grim superhero action-adventure, opens in domestic theaters on Friday and presents the best shot since “Spider-Man: No Way Home” at getting people back to the silver screen in a big way.

The comic book film, starring Robert Pattinson as the Caped Crusader, looks like a triumph at the box-office.

The Batman is targeting a huge opening weekend, between $100 million and $125 million at the domestic box office.

The Batman would be only the second pandemic-era movie to cross the $100 million mark in a single weekend. The first was Sony’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which debuted last December to a staggering $260 million.

The positive early reviews indicate that $100 million is actually a conservative projection–the movie could amass at least $140 million in its first three days of release.

After Warner debuted its entire 2021 theatrical film slate simultaneously on HBO Max, The Batman” is the first studio movie in over a year to play exclusively in cinemas.

It will be an important test of audiences’ wish to watch buzzy movies on the big screen at a time when output from streaming services has been prolific.

The Batman will arrive on HBO Max 45 days after debuting in theaters.

Opening weekend ticket sales for “The Batman” should affirm the decision by Warner to keep the movie only in theaters. That’s because it’s on track to represent the studio’s biggest COVID-era debut by a landslide. Over the past 12 months, when Warners deployed its day-and-date release strategy on HBO Max, director Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” adaptation landed the biggest three-day total with $41 million. Not only is “The Batman” expected to double that figure (and then some), but it has the potential to generate more money in its opening weekend than any other Warner Bros. pandemic release made in its entire theatrical run.

To date, the studio’s highest grossing movies in the last two year were Godzilla vs. Kong ($100 million) and Dune ($109 million).

Other recent Warner movies, many from popular franchises like “The Matrix” and “Space Jam,” fell short of expectations while they were available concurrently on digital platforms.

That said, theatrical-only releases in 2022, such as Uncharted and Channing Tatum’s canine adventure Dog sold more tickets than anticipated.

The movie should get a lift from the fact that superheroes are popular, plus it’s rated PG-13. Though director Todd Phillip’s disturbing 2019 film “Joker” became profitable despite its hard R-rating, restricting a movie like “The Batman” from audiences under age 17 could make a huge difference at the box office.

Running time: 3 Hours

The film’s three-hour runtime will limit the number of screenings per day, but it’s younger moviegoers who’ve been fueling the domestic box office’s recovery.

But the less provisional rating doesn’t necessarily mean the film is for the whole family. The Batman is “unsettling,” “tragic” and “darker than the already-dark Christopher Nolan-movies.

The $200 million-budgeted “The Batman” is one of the few Hollywood movies to secure a release date in China, which is currently the world’s most important market. Before the movie opens in China on March 18, it will play elsewhere at the international box office starting on Friday.

Russian Market: Gone

At the 11th hour, however, Warner pulled The Batman from release in Russia “in light of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.” The decision comes as Hollywood studios at large have been debating the prospect of releasing content in Russia. As far as theatrical territories, Russia is not make-or-break, but it has the potential to move the needle. For example, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” generated a robust $44 million there, and “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” made $32 million, making it the second-biggest market for that movie after North America. More recently, Tom Holland’s video game adaptation “Uncharted” grossed $9 million in Russia.

Directed by Matt Reeves, best known for the Planet of the Apes movies, The Batman is unconnected to other DC movies like “Wonder Woman,” “Aquaman,” and the upcoming “The Flash” or “Black Adam.”

The story, more film noir than comic book adventure, centers on Bruce Wayne’s earlier days of fighting crime. In his pursuit of justice, the youthful Dark Knight uncovers corruption in Gotham City while pursuing the maniacal killer known as the Riddler (Paul Dano). The star-studded cast includes Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman, Andy Serkis as Batman’s butler Alfred Pennyworth, Colin Farrell as the crime-lord known as Penguin, and Jeffrey Wright as Gotham City’s police chief James Gordon.

This Batman feels notably distinct from past adventures centered on Gotham’s ferocious defender, like director Nolan’s revered The Dark Knight trilogy or Ben Affleck’s middle-aged take on the character in “Batman v. Superman.

Commercially, The Batman has been a reliable draw over the past two decades.

When it comes to prior iterations, “Batman Begins” opened to $48 million in 2005. But the series later exploded with “The Dark Knight,” which debuted to $158 million in 2008, and “The Dark Knight Rises,” which launched to $160 million in 2012. The final two installments each grossed more than $1 billion worldwide, a milestone that only “Spider-Man: No Way Home” has managed to crack in pandemic times.

Affleck’s 2016 film “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” which is not a standalone superhero adventure, opened to $166 million

Reeves did something original by comic-book-movie standards–his take is more grounded, more brutal, more interrogating of the very concept of superheroes.