erik lundegaard

Box Office: The Not-So-Super Opening of 'Justice League'

Justice League box office

Oops.

When the Marvel Cinematic Universe began back in 2008, its movies opened OK—generally in the $60 mil to $100 mil range. Then when the movie they were all building toward, “The Avengers,” came out in May 2012, the thing just exploded. It set a new record with a $206 million open and grossed a total of $623 mil in the U.S. Because each step along the way had been careful. They built quality upon quality. You wouldn't have had that opening without all the small steps preceding it. 

Now it's DC's turn and ... they already blew it. Their steps weren't careful. They didn't build customer loyalty. 

The preceding movies opened big—all more than $100 million, culminating in “Batman v. Superman”'s $166 million open last March. But that movie was panned, rightly, a sour taste remained, and people didn't forget, despite the positive feeling left by this year's “Wonder Woman.” As a result, “Justice League” didn't explode out of the gate. The opposite. The movie that everyone was waiting for opened at $96 mil this weekend, decidedly less than all of its predecessors. 

And even though “JL” is “Citizen Kane” compared with “Batman v. Superman,” its fairly low Rotten Tomatoes rating, 40%, doesn't bode well for its overall box office. Look at the performance of the other movies in the DC Extended Universe. 

DCEU Movie Thtrs Total Opening Open % RT%
Wonder Woman 4,165 $412,563,408 $103,251,471 0.25 92%
Man of Steel 4,207 $291,045,518 $116,619,362 0.40 55%
Suicide Squad 4,255 $325,100,054 $133,682,248 0.41 26%
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice 4,256 $330,360,194 $166,007,347 0.50 27%

The better the movie, the longer the legs. Shittier, shorter the legs. “Wonder Woman” grossed four times its opening, “BvS” only two times. “BvS” began with a $63 million lead over “WW” and lost the race by $82 mil.

What might “Justice League” do? I don't think it'll fade as quickly as “BvS” simply because word-of-mouth won't be as bad. Plus “Wonder Woman” fans might come out for it. But at best it'll probably do 2.5 or three times its opening.

Which has got to be a huge disappointment for Warner Bros. But it's their fault: They're the ones who hired Zack Snyder way back when, despite, you know, all the evidence that he'd already left behind: “300,” “Watchmen,” “Sucker Punch.” 

Interestingly, some Zack Snyder fans are already blaming screenwriter Joss Whedon (“The Avengers”) for writing a lighter, funnier screenplay and reshooting scenes earlier this year. I don't agree. To me, those are the best parts of the movie. Besides, the bigger issue is the shitty steps DC took to get here, and that's on Zack. Whedon was brought in for a reason. And that reason has a name: Martha.  

In other news, “Wonder,” a Julia Roberts film about a kid with Treacher Collins Syndrome, which looked like the weepie of the week, got suprisingly strong reviews and surprisingly good box office. It finished second with $27 mil. “Thor: Ragnarok” fell off 61% for third place. 

Among the Oscar hopefuls, “Lady Bird” grossed $2.5 million in only 238 theaters, while “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” grossed $1.1 million in only 53 theaters. They finished 8th and 9th, respectively. 

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Posted at 11:43 AM on Sun. Nov 19, 2017 in category Movies - Box Office  

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