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‘The Batman’ and a BTS concert broadcast power box office

Jake Coyle

NEW YORK (AP) – In its second weekend of release, Warner Bros’ The Batman easily remained the number one movie in North American theatres with USD66 million in ticket sales, according to studio estimates last Sunday, while a live BTS concert broadcast was a one-day-only blockbuster.

Matt Reeves’ Caped Crusader reboot starring Robert Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz held well in its second week, dropping a modest 51 per cent – a good rate for a comic book movie – from its USD134 million debut and bringing its domestic total to USD238.5 million.

It’s done nearly identical business overseas, leading to USD463.2 million globally thus far.
The Batman, Warner Bros’ first exclusively theatrical release in more than a year after experimenting with simultaneous streaming releases through 2021, is expected to have much of March to itself at theatres.

No new wide releases opened over the weekend and The Batman should remain atop the box office for at least another week.

Partly because theatres were so dependent on The Batman this month, AMC Entertainment and some other chains introduced ticket prices that were USD1 to USD1.50 higher for the film’s first eight days of release.

Peter Sarsgaard, Jeffrey Wright, Paul Dano, Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz and Andy Serkis attend the world premiere of ‘The Batman’ at Lincoln Centre Josie Robertson Plaza in New York. PHOTO: AP
Fans of K-pop group BTS arrive for a BTS live concert at Jamsil Olympic Stadium in Seoul. PHOTO: AFP

Also packing theatres, albeit for a shorter window, was BTS Permission to Dance on Stage: Seoul.

The live broadcast last Saturday of the band’s first stage concert in South Korea sine 2019 grossed USD6.8 million in 797 North American theatres.

Globally, it made USD32.6 million – a testament to the immense popularity of the South Korean boy band.

Tickets to the event screenings went for as much as USD35.

One promising sign for Hollywood and exhibitors: Movies are holding well.

During much of 2021 amid in the ups and down of the pandemic, most films struggled to remain sizable draws after their first or second week in theatres.

Last weekend, not only did The Batman hold well, so did the weekend’s other top films.
Uncharted, the action-adventure starring Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg, declined only 17 per cent in its fourth week of release.

The videogame adaptation, from Sony Pictures, came in second with USD9.3 million. It grossed USD113.4 million domestically.

MGM’s Dog, starring Channing Tatum, has also had staying power. In its fourth week of release, it dipped only 13 per cent with USD5.3 million in ticket sales. The modestly budgeted film has made USD47.8 million.

Senior media analyst for the data firm Comscore Paul Dergarabedian said those results reflect a stabilising marketplace after pandemic fluctuations.

“These are unusually small weekend-over-weekend drops,” said Dergarabedian, who noted the dip for The Batman was even less (41 per cent) if you discounted the film’s early presales ahead of opening weekend. “The road to recovery is in full swing, it’s just taking a while.”

The paucity of competition for The Batman was partly due to other studios staying away from one of the year’s more anticipated films.

But it was also reflective of an early 2022 trend and changes accelerated by the pandemic.

With more major movies going straight to streaming, theatrical offerings are slimmer.

The Walt Disney Co opted to debut the Pixar film Turning Red on Disney+, as it did for the previous two Pixar releases.

Before the pandemic, Pixar releases were some of Hollywood’s most reliable ticket-sellers.

Domee Shi’s Turning Red, the first Pixar film directly solely by a woman, about a 13-year-old Asian Canadian girl who turns into a giant red panda when she feels strong emotions, played in three theatres domestically (Disney didn’t provide sales figures) and opened theatrically in 12 international markets where Disney+ isn’t available. It grossed USD3.8 million in those territories.

The release schedule, said David A Gross, who runs the movie consultancy Franchise Entertainment, remains thin.

He counted 16 wide releases in January and February, while there would typically be 22 to 25.

The National Association of Theatre Owners has called lack of movies “a critical issue” for theatres.

“But the April and May titles are strong and they are more consistent from week to week, which is what we’ve been missing,” wrote Gross in a newsletter last Sunday.

He expects moviegoing to continue to strengthen in the spring and summer.

If sales can reach 80 per cent of 2019 grosses, he says, that would be a very good result for the year.

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