Moviegoers’ excitement over the first big screen meeting between Clark Kent and the Caped Crusader has Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice racking up racking up advance ticket sales at pace resembling that of a speeding bullet.
The movie, from Time Warner’s (TWX) Warner Bros. studio, opens nationwide on Friday with some analysts predicting an opening weekend haul of $350 million in worldwide ticket sales. Deadline reports that Batman vs. Superman has already tallied as much as $25 million in advance ticket sales domestically days before its full release, despite mixed reviews from critics.
The movie could use a big opening to help distinguish it from other highly-anticipated superhero movies dropping in theaters in 2016—a group so large that moviegoers won’t need a Bat Signal to catch sight of a spandex-clad savior in theaters this year. Deadpool, from 20th Century Fox (FOX), already made its mark with a record-breaking February opening on its way to grossing more than $730 million worldwide, so far. Meanwhile, after Batman vs. Superman, the month of May brings both Captain America: Civil War, from Walt Disney (DIS), as well as Fox’s X-Men: Apocalypse.
Superhero films coming out this summer and the fall are Paramount’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel and Warner Bros.’s Suicide Squad, while Disney introduces audiences to Marvel’s Doctor Strange in November. That’s seven potential blockbusters (including multiple franchise tentpole follow-ups) from the superhero/comic book adaptation genre spread in one calendar year, as Hollywood studios bet more and more on the genre to reap major box office rewards.
Batman vs. Superman also marks the first installment in what is expected to be an ambitious series for Warner Bros., which aims to build an interconnected cinematic empire that rivals Disney’s Marvel universe. Over the next four years, Warner Bros. plans to unleash about 10 films based on DC Comics characters, including two Justice League movies that brings those characters together, similar to how Disney rounds up characters such as Iron Man, Captain America and the rest of their pals for its Avengers series. Certainly, comic book fans are salivating over all of the cinematic possibilities, but the plan has Warner Bros. seeing green after watching Disney gross roughly $2.5 billion combined from seven Marvel-based movies over the past four years.
With Warner Bros. looking to mirror the massive box office success Disney has unwrapped from its stable of Marvel characters over the years, it is more clear than ever that studios now see superhero films and franchises as their box office bread and butter. Meanwhile, Deadpool‘s arrival earlier this year as a surprise blockbuster employing darker themes (plus more adult situations and R-rated language) and based on a non-traditional comic book character with a cult following, is proof that a wide range of superhero movies have the potential to return major box office receipts for Hollywood studios.
With that in mind, and with many more comic book heroes on their way to theaters, here is a look at the five highest-grossing superhero films of all-time. (NOTE: Box office figures are domestic gross adjusted for inflation and sourced from Box Office Mojo.):