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Why The Batman Is Bombing In China

Superhero blockbusters have conquered the cinematic landscape in recent years. With four Marvel titles in the top 10 top-grossing movies of all time, it's no surprise that studios such as Disney and Warner Bros. keep churning out movies of this ilk with their Marvel and DC franchises, respectively. Of course, it's still possible for these flicks to encounter difficulties and underperform in certain regions.

Matt Reeves' "The Batman" is the latest superhero offering to grace the big screen. The film stars Robert Pattinson as a grungier version of Bruce Wayne, tasked with cleaning up Gotham City through a combination of detective work and good old-fashioned beatdowns. However, he finds himself up against a greater threat than common thugs when The Riddler (Paul Dano) goes on a calculated killing spree. The investigation forces Batman to team up with GCPD's Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) and Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman (Zoƫ Kravitz), in order to get to the bottom of the complex mystery.

Despite being one of the Dark Knight's least family-friendly movies to date, "The Batman" is a hit in most territories as of this writing. Unfortunately, the film isn't enjoying much box office success in China due to circumstances beyond its control.

COVID-19 is hurting The Batman in China

"The Batman" is off to a slow start in China, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The film raked in an estimated $3.6 million on Friday, March 18, including some presales for showings set to take place on Saturday and Sunday. THR also reports that Beijing-based ticketing app Maoyan predicts that "The Batman" will gross a total of $33 million over the weekend, even though that number could change between now and Sunday night. Still, the opening night numbers suggest that "The Batman" will not be a mega-hit in China when it's all said and done.

While the film has received positive reviews from local fans and critics alike, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected its earning potential in China. As THR points out, a recent spike in cases throughout the country means that multiplexes have closed, prohibiting potential moviegoers from seeing the film. Over 30% of Chinese theaters have temporarily shut their doors to the public in the past week, so it's likely that other releases will underperform too. That being said, while the lockdown has ultimately affected the film's potential to prosper in China, the gross is still substantially lower than its performance in overseas territories. For example, "The Batman" grossed over $134 million during its opening weekend in the United States (per Box Office Mojo), so it's possible that other factors have contributed to the movie not finding as much success in China.

The THR report also noted that the film's three-hour runtime could be hampering its growth among citizens who are allowed to go see it.