Justice League, the superhero team up of Warner Brothers DC Extended Universe film franchise, failed to light up the box office as expected this past weekend. With final tallies being reported today, the film is looking at only earning $94 million in ticket sales.
Expectations had been originally much higher for the film. Earliest projections at the end of September had placed the opening weekend gross closer to $150 million. As the release of the film grew closer, that number was revised downwards until just day’s before it’s debut Justice League was being forecasted to earn in the neighborhood of $110 to $120 million.
Overseas, the film did much better, grossing an additional $185.5 million as it rolled out in 65 countries. China had the biggest single international box office take with $51.7 million. But the overseas take was not enough to balance the disappointing domestic business. Although Justice League‘s total box office total comes to $279 million, that is still under the $325 million-plus weekend that it was expected to have.
For most films, a $94 million domestic opening weekend would be considered a pretty good debut. But Justice League is not most films. A rocky production that saw one round of reshoots before director Zack Snyder left the project due to personal reasons and another more extensive round of reshoots done after his departure overseen by Joss Whedon has reportedly driven the budget upwards towards $300 million. An extensive advertising campaign added another $150 million to the studio’s investment on the film. In order to turn a profit for the studio, Justice League will ultimately have to bring in approximately $750 million over all at the box office.
Batman V Superman, also directed by Snyder, earned $166 million its opening weekend. This amount was 19% of the film’s ultimate global take of $873.2 million. If Justice League follows a similar path at the box office, and I will grant that there are factors that may give it an alternate course, it may only gross in the region of $470 million. The film’s ultimate financial fate will probably not be revealed until the studio’s next quarterly earnings report.
There is still hope that Justice League could have strong box office takes over the next couple of weeks. Thanksgiving is often a busy time at cinemas and the only film opening wide this coming weekend is Pixar’s Coco, whose potential audience skews younger. There is no wide release genre film scheduled for the next few following weeks until Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens on December 15.
Justice League was hit with reviews that were at best mixed but skewing negative. It did receive a CinemaScore of B+ from audiences, but it should be noted that CinemaScore is only taken on the Friday evening of a film’s opening weekend and is more a measure of how effective the marketing was in getting out an audience that would be receptive to the film. In comparison, previous DC Extended Universe entries Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice got a flat B CinemaScore while this past summer’s Wonder Woman got an A.
Another factor that may be hurting Justice League‘s take is its proximity to Marvel Studios’ Thor: Ragnarok, which was just released two weekends previously. This is the closest that two superhero films have opened to one another and it is possible that Thor may have cannibalized some of Justice League‘s potential audience.