By Tim Briody
November 19, 2017
The release of Justice League is here and being the DC’s version of Marvel’s The Avengers, there were hopes for an Avengers-sized opening. After all, it’s got Batman, Superman *and* Wonder Woman, what could go wrong? While that’s the dream scenario, based on the recent performances of DC films, most predictions had Justice League coming in with anywhere from $120 to $140 million, a perfectly acceptable opening considering the openings of the previous films in the DC Extended Universe (Man of Steel, $116.6 million, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, $166 million, Suicide Squad $133.6 million and Wonder Woman, $103.2 million). Reviews came in and they weren’t great, but neither were the reviews for any DC film except Wonder Woman. Nothing seemed off.
And then, Thursday night.
$13 million from Thursday night showings, and a Friday of $38.8 million with that figure included. Uh-oh. This was a Friday figure so disappointing that nobody would have believed Warner Bros. if they came up with a $100 million estimate for the weekend, so they didn’t.
The weekend estimate for Justice League is $96 million. As I’ve stated before, it is inherently ridiculous to point out that $96 million, an amount of money that you or I will never see in a lifetime, is disappointing if not disastrous, but that’s where we are right now in box office.
What went wrong? Did audiences finally tire of Zack Snyder’s schtick? After all, he brought us both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman and both of those performed well despite lousy reviews, as did Suicide Squad. Did the success and strong reviews for Wonder Woman actually hurt future bad DC movies, since now we know they can be, uh, good? We don’t have the answers for that just yet, but this is not the opening weekend that bodes well for the upcoming Thanksgiving long weekend. With a sequel already penciled in for 2019 or 2020 (along with standalone movies for Jason Momoa's Aquaman, Ezra Miller's Flash, Ray Fisher's Cyborg and of course a Wonder Woman sequel with Gal Gadot), the DCEU needs to quickly go back to the drawing board, and perhaps without Snyder involved. Or maybe he just needs to call up Patty Jenkins for advice.
In second place we have some good news in the form of counter programming, as Wonder, starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay, earned a surprising $27 million. An adaptation of a popular novel (as well as drawing comparisons to the now 30+ year old Mask), Wonder had strong reviews and while it’s not 1999 anymore, Roberts still has a bit of draw in the right project. This is the sort of performance that *will* lead to a strong Thanksgiving weekend, and it’s already money in the bank as it only had a reported $20 million budget.
Thor: Ragnarok is expectedly kneecapped down to third place, taking a 62% hit from last weekend, but still pulling in $21.7 million in its third weekend and giving it $247.3 million to date. Direct competition from Justice League definitely mattered here, but it’s still all sunshine and puppies for Marvel, as even after last weekend it was the most successful of the Thor movies and once again shows how the Marvel Cinematic Universe just can’t miss.