The most recent member added to this exclusive club is AQUAMAN from Warner Bros./DC Entertainment.
Raise your hand if you really thought that AQUAMAN would make that kind of cash?
(*doesn’t raise hand, you didn’t either, and you’re lying if you did*)
Look, that’s no knock on AQUAMAN, but let’s be honest, OK? It was one hell of a feat for a live-action film based on such a maligned, mocked character, and frankly C-list character to pull that off.
Thus, I tip my cap to Warner Bros., DC Comics, director James Wan, star Jason Momoa, and all involved with that film.
Additionally, when it comes to Disney’s BLACK PANTHER from Marvel Films, ditto to all the above.
Going back to the opening statement at the beginning of this-here op-ed, two of those $1 billion-plus movies are Batman films: THE DARK KNIGHT and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.
With Matt Reeves’ THE BATMAN slowly ramping up heading towards a June 25, 2021 release date, must this film make at least a billion dollars to be considered a success based on the last 2 solo Batman movies?
If it doesn’t, should it be chalked up as a failure?
Furthermore, if movies starring characters like Aquaman and Black Panther can make that kind of scratch, isn’t it a layup for any Batman movie?
The answer to all of that is either “No” or “Not necessarily.”
I’m going to explain why, but I’m not taking the shortcut home…so stay with me, please. 😉
While Batman is arguably the most popular comic book/superhero amongst the mainstream/general audience (there’s a legit argument that it might be Spider-Man, so they’re likely 1 & 2, 2 &1…whatever it takes), the character has also appeared in 8 major live-action pictures since 1989.
In fact, his last cinematic appearance was just over a year ago in JUSTICE LEAGUE. — which failed miserably critically, at the box office, and folks simply didn’t care enough about it to show up to see it.
I’ve been arguing here on BOF that Batman on film needed a bit of a rest to allow audiences to miss him again. With Reeves’ THE BATMAN bowing in June of 2021, that will be 3.5 years after JUSTICE LEAGUE and — more importantly — 9 years after the last solo/standalone Batman film, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.
If we ignore BATMAN v SUPERMAN and JUSTICE LEAGUE (can we, please?) as neither were solo/standalone Batman movies (though Batman was the main character in both), I think the 9-year gap between RISES and THE BATMAN will suffice.
Heck, that’ll actually be 1 year longer than the time between BATMAN & ROBIN (which was thought to have killed the franchise) and BATMAN BEGINS.
However, will that much Batman on film in the last 30 years since BATMAN in 1989 have an effect on Reeves’ THE BATMAN no matter how good it may end up being?
I think so…maybe just a little.
To me, THE BATMAN is very much in the same boat as BATMAN BEGINS back in 2005.
Like BEGINS, TB is tasked with revitalizing the character after a very poor and embarrassing depiction in a film that took a beating critically and at the box office.
In fact, I’d say that Batman on film is sort of in the place right now as Spider-Man on film was after THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2.
Though Spider-Man never had a bad cinematic outing like Batman — specifically in BATMAN & ROBIN and JUSTICE LEAGUE — the ‘ol web-slinger had appeared roughly the same number of films (9 counting BvS and JL) as Spider-Man prior the SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING reboot (7 counting CIVIL WAR).
Therefore, I’m thinking a reasonable worldwide box office take for THE BATMAN — to be considered a success — should be somewhere between what BATMAN BEGINS (which would be about $500 million today) and SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING ($880 million) made during their theatrical runs: around $700-ish million.
If THE BATMAN does that sort of money at the box office — and is reviewed well — the film should be considered a success.
Want my way too soon prediction? OK, here goes…
THE BATMAN will receive positive reviews and take in about $460 million domestic, $380 foreign for a total box office of around $840ish million.
If so, we should all be happy. Now, repeat after me…
“JUSTICE LEAGUE = BATMAN & ROBIN.”
“THE BATMAN = BATMAN BEGINS.”
“THE BATMAN = SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING.”
“2019 = 2005.”
“THE BATMAN doesn’t need to make a billion bucks to be a success.”
“Jett is always right.” – Bill “Jett” Ramey