‘Batman v Superman’ pows box office with $170 million debut
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‘Batman v Superman’ pows box office with $170 million debut

Israel’s Gal Gadot wins praise for her turn as Wonder Woman, is even singled out as the highlight of the movie

Gal Gadot as Diana Prince (aka Wonder Woman) and Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne (aka Batman) in a still image from the 2016 movie 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' (screen capture: YouTube)
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince (aka Wonder Woman) and Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne (aka Batman) in a still image from the 2016 movie 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' (screen capture: YouTube)

LOS ANGELES — Two iconic superheroes zapped the opposition as “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” leapt to the top of the North American box office in its opening weekend with $170.1 million, industry estimates showed Sunday.

That mammoth haul made it the best March launch ever and the sixth-biggest domestic opening weekend of all-time, the industry journal Variety said.

Starring Ben Affleck as Batman and Henry Cavill in the role of Superman, the characters’ first big-screen pairing sets up the coming movies “Justice League” and “Wonder Woman.” Israeli actress Gal Gadot makes her debut as the Amazonian superhero in “Batman v Superman,” and will reprieve the role in the 2017 movie.

A stellar cast for the Warner Bros blockbuster also features Jesse Eisenberg as the eccentric villain Lex Luthor and Amy Adams as Superman’s love interest Lois Lane.

Gadot has won broad acclaim for her portrayal of Wonder Woman, often being singled out as a highlight of the movie amid some decidedly negative reviews.

“Thank goodness Ms. Prince turns out to be Wonder Woman, who injects some real vitality into the sludgy superhero sameness,” said Alonso Duralde on The Wrap website, clarifying in the headline that “Wonder Woman Steals the Show.” Similarly, Eliza Berman of Time magazine wrote in a review entitled “How Wonder Woman Steals the Spotlight in Batman v Superman,” that “for some, she’ll be the only reason to make a donation to the movie’s already hefty box-office take.”

The movie had been eagerly anticipated among the legion of fans of the superhero genre and they poured into cinemas for the Easter weekend, according to estimates from industry tracker Exhibitor Relations.

The initial success of “Batman v Superman” easily relegated the animated Disney film “Zootopia” into second in the box office standings.

The movie, about an intrepid rabbit police officer who works with a fox to solve a crime in the Zootopia animal kingdom, pulled in $23.1 million from Friday to Sunday for a total of $240.5 million in its four weeks at cinemas.

Third was another new entry, the comedy sequel “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,” with $18.1 million on its debut weekend.

Looking to build on the success of the original film in 2002, the follow-up brings the Portokalos family back for — yes, you guessed it — an even bigger wedding.

Roughly tied at fourth and fifth at the box office, both with about $9.5 million, were “The Divergent Series: Allegiant” and the feel-good “Miracles from Heaven.”

Rounding out the rest of the top 10 were:

— “10 Cloverfield Lane” ($6 million)

— “Deadpool” ($5 million)

— “London Has Fallen” ($3 million)

— “Hello, My Name is Doris” ($1.7 million)

— “Eye in the Sky” ($1 million)

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