BTS Took A Chunk Out Of The Batman's Box Office

Studios and theater chains have tried plenty of different gambits to re-capture audiences over the past two years, but there's one specific sector we should never have underestimated: The boy band fandom. According to The Wrap, a much-anticipated BTS concert film outsold "The Batman" in several spots in the U.S. this past Saturday.

It's rare to see a single-day event movie make gains on a major blockbuster film, but "BTS: Permission To Dance On Stage" didn't just make a dent in "The Batman" box office — it also broke a global record. The event was not a pre-recorded concert documentary, but a live broadcast of the beloved band's first concert since the pandemic put a halt to touring in 2020. According to The Wrap, the show raked in the most impressive box office haul a live cinema event has ever seen, grossing $32.6 million worldwide.

Could single-day engagements help save theaters?

"BTS: Permission To Dance On Stage" could also be a bellwether for the future when it comes to ticket pricing. While reports of theaters experimenting with different price points for "The Batman" polarized moviegoers, single-day events are much more exclusive than ongoing engagements, making higher ticket costs justified. Tickets for the BTS event came at a premium of $35, a more than reasonable amount for enthusiastic fans who are hungry for new content from the global phenomenon.

Theaters in L.A., Chicago, Miami, and Honolulu reported that the concert film was their top earner for the weekend, grossing as much as $30,000 with just one screening. The Seoul-based concert, distributed by Trafalgar Releasing, also managed to come in third overall at the U.S. box office (behind "The Batman" and "Uncharted"), despite only playing in 803 theaters.

All of this leads us to wonder: Could one-off events actually be key to helping save the struggling theater industry? (IMAX seems to think it's a possibility.) Few fandoms have the massive draw that BTS does, but surely there are other routes to explore featuring limited engagements. For years, I've associated limited engagement theatrical events with pretty niche fare, like Fathom Events' streams of the Metropolitan Opera. But why can't single-screening events go mainstream? If comic book fans are the people keeping theaters in business, why not try simulcasting a livestream of Hall H panels from San Diego Comic-Con? If certain musical acts can get butts in seats, why not make long-awaited band reunions more exclusive by putting the footage in theaters instead of on YouTube?

Of course, all of this theorizing imagines a world where it's safe for everyone to go to theaters. Until that day comes, some of us will be streaming "Butter" at home.