This past weekend, a woman who called herself “Gracie Law” published an essay called “An Open Letter To Warner Bros CEO Kevin Tsujihara About Layoffs, Zack Snyder, and Donuts.”
The writer, who identifies herself as “former employee of Warner Bros,” rails at Tsujihara for the general crappiness of “Suicide Squad” and the Warner Bros. 2014 slate of movies and a mess of layoffs that happened about that time.
“Zack Snyder is not delivering,” writes Law about the “Batman v Superman” director who “is a producer on every DC movie,” including “Suicide Squad” and the upcoming “Wonder Woman,” the latter for which he also has a “story by” credit. Snyder is also directing the upcoming “Justice League” movie, which is essentially the sequel to “Batman v Superman.”
Is Snyder delivering aesthetically? Absolutely not.
I did not like “Suicide Squad.” I did not like “Batman v Superman.” I did not like “Man of Steel.” And man alive, I usually love Superman and Batman to pieces.
But financially? As the ol’ Magic Eight Ball says, signs point to yes.
Let’s look at some numbers.
According to BoxOfficeMojo.com, “Batman v Superman” has grossed $872.7 million worldwide, $330.4 domestically (37.9% of its gross) and a whopping $542.3 million (62.1%) overseas.
According to this excellent story by Forbes, “Batman v Superman” was budgeted at about $250 million in production costs and about $150 million in marketing. That’s about $400 million. So it HAD to make $800 million at LEAST. Which it did. (Seriously, read the Forbes piece — the gent who wrote it projected $895 million back in April and explains what that number means for Warners.)
Did the terrible reviews hurt it? Maybe, maybe not. According to this Hollywood Reporter piece, Warners was “blindsided and deeply rattled by the tepid response to ‘Batman v Superman,'” which led to a lot of second-guessing during the production of “Suicide Squad.”
Except here is the thing: Ultimately, “Batman” made the studio money. Was it “Captain America: Civil War” successful? No; that movie has made $1.15 billion worldwide and is the year’s No. 1 film.
But, interestingly, “Batman” actually made a slightly higher percentage of its money domestically than “Captain America” did (37.9% vs. 35.4%). And “Captain America” had a far better Rotten Tomatoes score, at 90%, than “Batman v Superman,” which had 27%.
Which is to say, the student who got an F from critics made almost as much money as the A student.
Not the C student, not the B student, but the F student.
Let’s look at “Suicide Squad.”
Rotten Tomatoes score? 27%. It made $133,682,248 its first weekend, which is an August record. It dropped 67.3% on its second weekend, which is big but not a disaster. (“Batman v Superman” dropped 69% on its second week.) “Suicide Squad” has been open for about 12 days and has made $466 million worldwide, $222.6 million domestically (47.8%) and $243.4 (52.2% overseas). These seem to be perfectly reasonable numbers for a movie with $175 million production budget (no idea about the marketing).
All of which indicates that DC Comics movies are pretty well critic-proof and poor-buzz-proof.
Look, I would love it if people stopped going to see these movies. But there is zero evidence that they will. “Wonder Woman” is looking at a June 2, 2017, release date. “Justice League” is slated for Nov. 17, 2017. If “Suicide Squad” breaks, say, $600 million, some sort of sequel seems in the offing.
Unless costs just spiral out of control on the next round of movies, there is no financial reason for Warners to get rid of Snyder. Get used to him.