March 25th is fast approaching as one of the biggest gambles for both DC Comics and Warner Bros. with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Over the past few months, Batman v Superman has struggled to stay in the forefront of everyone’s mind, releasing promotional material on a near-daily basis, releasing interviews with the cast and director about the upcoming film, and releasing three to four new trailers (one which was given the heaviest negative feedback due to the appearance of a main villain.) For the past two years, fans have debated if Ben Affleck will be a good fit for Batman, if Gal Gadot has the physicality and acting ability to play Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, if the new film will address the events of the end of 2013’s Man of Steel (the only DC Comics movie within this new DC film universe), and if director Zack Snyder will be able to pull off a better story than the one given in Man of Steel.
A few months back, rumors flew around that employees at Warner Bros. and some of the executives of the studio were given the chance to see an early cut of the film, which according to the rumor at the time, was met with applause and positive commentary. After this rumor floated about, we hadn’t heard much about the film, until this past week. In the video below, HitFix’s Roth Cornet and Drew McWeeny have a discussion about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the possible future of the DC Comics film slate and the rumor of how Warner Bros. feels about it.
Now, before the DC Comics fanboys get all in a tizzy about this interview, let’s think about this from a business standpoint that’s given in the interview. Per the interview, Batman v Superman was an idea that was thought up by Warner Bros. a couple days (or sometime before then) before the 2013 San-Diego Comic Convention, when the official announcement was made. When you go back to that time and actually think about the way that the movie was announced, it does seem as if the idea of the movie and the announcement did in fact seem a bit rushed, as Warner Bros. had an entire day of official movie announcements and didn’t have an official announcement for Batman v Superman, just Zack Snyder showing up to announce the movie, which would have been easy for Warner Bros. to set up at the convention at the time. From there, the movie is scheduled for a July 2015 release, which was then delayed to March 25, 2016, to re-write the script from David Goyer to Chris Terrio (in which I personally believe was going to be the original Man of Steel sequel, but then Batman happened.) The budget of this film is rumored to be near $430 million, which is the most expensive budget given to a single movie and now the rumor is that Warner Bros. is starting to feel a bit scared that it may not be the hit that they all hoped for. From a business standpoint, it is easy for a company like Warner Bros., who had a pretty terrible financial year in profits for movies released in 2015, to be worried about making a profit with a budget as high as $430 million, as it would need to be a $1 billion hit in order to be profitable.
Given the past, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises alone grossed $1 billion each at great success being that these films had budgets of about $150 million each. It is entirely possible that this movie does, in fact, not work in the minds of the shareholders and the executives of Warner Bros. However, they are not the ones who will be able to decide that. It is up to the fans and the general audience to judge for themselves how they feel about the film and how this will set up other characters for their own franchise films and that is where their concern comes in. Man of Steel had a budget of about $250 million and grossed about $700 million worldwide. While this may be deemed a “success,” shareholders and executives see this as near $300 million hit, compared to Batman’s solo movies. Rumors will fly about until the day that Batman v Superman is finally released in theaters and then, and only then, will we be able to see if the movie will meet all of the expectations or fall short on them. One thing is for certain, a Ben Affleck solo-Batman movie may be arriving sooner than later.