Box Office: ‘LEGO Batman Movie’ Tops Weekend With Strong $55.6M Debut – Forbes
The top movie of a crowded, possibly too crowded, weekend was The LEGO Batman Movie. The $80 million animated spin-off of The LEGO Movie earned a solid $55.6m this weekend, including $4.365m in IMAX alone, giving it a 3.7x weekend multiplier. That’s 19% less than the $69m debut of The LEGO Movie. Regarding its domestic performance, this is a case where a film opens below my own personal expectations while still performing very well.
The film earned rave reviews and should have terrific word-of-mouth, and next weekend is a kid-friendly holiday. My son wants to see it again in theaters, which is something that basically never happens in my family. It’s good news for my wife who didn’t get to come to the press screening, so I’ll let you know what she thinks if that transpires.
Offhand, concerning post-debut legs, we’re probably looking at something between The Lorax (2.9x from a $71 million debut) and The LEGO Movie (3.7x from a $69m debut), giving The LEGO Batman Movie a final domestic gross between $162m and $206m. Yes, that’s less than The LEGO Movie‘s $257m total back in 2014, but this is a spin-off so if anything it’s playing closer to Puss In Boots which earned $149m domestic in 2011 which was great but below any-and-all Shrek movies.
While Batman is something of a crown jewel IP, the big hits are in the live-action arena. It’s not like Batman: Mask of the Phantasm was a mega-blockbuster when it opened over Christmas of 1993, earning a $1.18 million debut and $5.6m total. For that matter, Star Wars: The Clone Wars opened with $14m in August of 2008 and earned just $68m worldwide.
Also of note, while The LEGO Batman Movie played to kids and adults (it played 52% over 25-years old), it was a lot more novel for adults. There are six (very funny) direct-to-DVD Lego DC Comics movies already in the marketplace. This may be another case of a would-be kid-targeted blockbuster that plays more to nostalgic grown-ups, but that’s a conversation for after next weekend.
This may be a situation not unlike the various DreamWorks Animation sequels opening in theaters while televised episodes based on the same characters play for free on TV. Again, that’s something to consider after the holiday or while discussing next month’s Power Rangers movie. By the way, if this weekend’s big storm was detrimental to the various debuts, then we’ll see that reflected in post-debut legs going forward. I will be curious to see how this film plays overseas (and I will update when such numbers become available).
While The LEGO Movie earned a superb $257.7 million domestic back in 2014, it earned a merely very good $211.4m overseas for a $469.1m worldwide cume. That was still huge, especially on a $60m budget. But I will be curious to see if this spin-off can match/exceed that overseas total thanks to the addition of the Dark Knight, just as adding the Caped Crusader to the Man of Steel sequel helped Dawn of Justice earn $165m more overseas (and $40m more domestic) than that initial Superman movie.
Speaking of which, as noted yesterday, in a skewed way, the complicated reception to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad arguably helped this one just a little in terms of being a counterpoint to those films’ grimdark carnage. Conversely, the fact that the DC Comics universe exists in so many forms means it’s okay that the DC Films offerings are (thus far) somewhat grim and somber deconstructionist affairs. One of the core ideas of The LEGO Batman Movie is that Batman as a character can exist in a multitude of forms with no real wrong interpretation for the iconic character.
And the critical/commercial success of The LEGO Batman Movie is important because it sends a message about Warner Bros. Their DC Films may be a behind-the-scenes melodrama, but their other two big franchises, LEGO and Fantastic Beasts, came through right as rain critically and commercially. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them earned solid reviews and an $800 million worldwide and this is the second critically acclaimed hit LEGO movie. Even Storks turned out to be relatively amusing even if it was a box office underperformer.
As long as the LEGO movies stay within Illumination-ish budgets, and with the understanding that, give or take The LEGO Movie 2, the franchise may have peaked with the first two films (Ninjago isn’t going to score a $54m debut weekend), this particular mix-and-match IP is still quite healthy. Point being, whatever becomes of their DC Films universe, Warner Bros. is more than just their live-action superhero movies.
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