When it comes to evaluating the financial performance of top movies, it isn’t about what a film grosses at the box office. The true tale is told when production budgets, P&A, talent participations and other costs collide with box office grosses and ancillary revenues from VOD to DVD and TV. To get close to that mysterious end of the equation, Deadline is repeating our Most Valuable Blockbuster tournament, using data culled by seasoned and trusted sources.

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice
Warner Bros

THE FILM

Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice was director Zack Snyder’s follow-up to 2013’s Superman movie Man Of Steel. Its position at No. 13 is certainly nothing to cry over, but the movie was a conundrum, and you can’t evaluate it without wondering what might have happened financially had the picture been more pleasurable to watch and not so dour. After all, it was the first live-action movie to pair Superman and Batman, historically the biggest characters in the DC Comics universe. The film picked up right after the Superman film, when all of Gotham City — including Batman — blamed the immortal hero for the carnage inflicted in his battle with Zod. There was much concern going in over whether or not Ben Affleck would be a good Batman; he turned out to be the best thing in the movie. He matched up well to Henry Cavill’s character, but unfortunately, they pretty much started the movie pissed off at each other, and stayed that way. There was very little humor, and where was that Heat coffee shop scene that at least would have allowed the protagonists to engage in conversation and try to understand each other and maybe find a compromise? Gal Gadot was a bright spot as Wonder Woman in a small stint that sets up her solo movie, but Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor was arguably the most annoying villain to ever appear in a superhero movie and…suffice to say, the lack of irreverence and fun that are characteristic in the Marvel movies hurt Batman V Superman’s financial performance. How did the movie fare financially? Let’s take a look.

THE BOX SCORE

Here are the costs and revenues as our experts see them:

THE BOTTOM LINE

DC Comics is still figuring out its style tonally, and Batman V Superman showed them many things they should do differently. Rumor had them injecting those lessons into Justice League, the DC superhero mash-up set for November. But when you can learn a hard lesson and still earn out in the black, it’s not the worst thing in the world. Batman V Superman opened in March, globally, on one of the largest screen counts ever. The picture cost a reported $260 million, and turned in a $166 million opening weekend, one of the biggest in movie history. But the negative reviews brought about a precipitous second-weekend drop and so it is hard to evaluate the movie without wondering how much larger its $873 million global gross might have been, had the film just worked in some humor and not been so relentlessly bleak. It would not have taken much to sustain business beyond opening weekend and cross the billion-dollar mark. Batman V Superman did $330 million in domestic gross, with $447 million overseas and $95 million in China. These would have been lauded on most movies, but the film simply didn’t match expectations that came with the prospect of a collision between such iconic characters, at such a high production and marketing budget. The bottom line was that Warner Bros made a net profit of $105.7 million, and a respectable Cash on Cash Return of 1.18. But oh, what might have been…