Are Superheroes still invincible?

Superheroes appear to be losing a little of their invincibility this week. Batman v Superman opened to new box office records for both Warner Bros. and March Openings with a global box office taking of US$420 million on its opening weekend. You would think that would lead to a good news story for the fate of superhero franchises. Fear not, the villains have started their revenge . .

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The villains in this story are not the Joker, Catwoman or Lex Luther. The villains for Batman v Superman are the critics. And they will do anything in their power to take down this entertainment behemoth.

Okay, that’s a bit dramatic. Following this highly-anticipated movie release last weekend, Batman v Superman received a spate of negative reviews from critics mainly complaining that the movie was too dark. This caused a whole lot of doomsday predictions for the second weekend at the box office predicting massive drops in revenue. As we make our way through the second weekend, the box office revenue isn’t looking as bad as predicted, but it isn’t looking great either mostly due to the negative reviews.

Was there anything Batman v Superman could have done differently? Not really. The movie created all the right buzz to generate a couple of opening weekend records and ticket sales in anticipation were incredibly strong. But while the negative reviews haven’t turned die-hard fans away from the cinema, they have detracted the secondary audience who have been convinced into seeing the movie had it been declared a great hit by media outlets.

The results of this case study suggest two things for the movie industry. One, critics still have significant pull over guiding audiences to and from movies. Two, they can’t make or break a movie anymore because plenty of people were still lining up for screenings this weekend. Yet, that doesn’t mean you don’t want to have them on your side.

While critics may not have the negative pull they once maintained, they still have the ability to convince new audiences to give a movie a go. When choosing a movie with friends, how often does someone mention ‘I heard this was a great movie’? The power of positive word of mouth is still rife in the industry – a factor which upcoming superhero movie Suicide Squad is hoping to leverage.

In the wake of the bad reviews from Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad actors and production team are headed back into filming after the movie had already wrapped up. They feel that their movie had a similar dark tone to this weekend’s releases and are hoping to get the critics on board to mitigate any negative publicity wave that has befallen their competitors. So there is no doubt that pleasing these large word-of-mouth generators is still high on the list of priorities.

With the trend of superhero-inspired movies still in its infancy stages, every movie house will be looking for the right formula to please audiences, critics and the like because this is the modern day Midas touch. Will Suicide Squad be able to use this audience-orientation to create a blockbuster success? Only time will tell.

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