Holy Kryptonite! What happened to ‘Justice League’? One of the most anticipated movies of the year opened far below its projections of $110-120 million. Some even speculated that it could debut even bigger, in the $150M range. But the superhero team up stumbled to a $96M first weekend, 44% lower than that of ‘Batman V Superman’. In fact, ‘Justice League’ had the lowest opening of the five DCEU movies! Its production budget, before promotion, was $300M. That’s twice that of ‘Wonder Woman’. (Promo is estimated at $150M at the very least.) Even without lofty projections, for a tent pole of this stature to open to less than $100M is pretty alarming.
Audience reaction has been positive. Its CinemaScore is B+– not excellent but strong. Its Thursday pm PostTrak was pretty glowing, with audiences giving it four out of five stars. Word of mouth could drive ticket sales over the next couple of weeks. Keep in mind, ‘Wonder Woman”s opening was big but not massive and gave no hint of how successful that film would be in the long run. But with Disney/Pixar’s ‘Coco’ opening next weekend, things look Apocalyptic for ‘Justice League’.
Going into this weekend, audiences were on their guard. They were still smarting from the debacle that was ‘Batman V Superman’, and with the same director, Zack Snyder, and screenwriter, Chris Terrio, returning, the mood among fans was cautiously optimistic at best. Perhaps a higher than normal number were waiting to see how others reacted before heading to the multiplex.
Not surprisingly, critics overall didn’t like ‘Justice League’, with a terrible 31% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes. Perhaps more damning than actual bad reviews, ‘Justice League’ was the victim of what may have simply been a poor decision. Rotten Tomatoes has launched a new web series ‘See It/Skip It’ on which it reveals a movie’s score prior to posting reactions on the main website/app. The result is that ‘Justice League”s cumulative score was delayed until late Thursday. Though it had nothing to do with Warner Brothers or their marketing, some cynically saw this as a ploy to withhold ‘Justice League”s poor score, so that more people would go see it before they learned of the critics’ reactions. Of course, the same delay would have happened if it had gotten great reviews. But the media picked up on it and fanned the flames of a controversy by spurring “cover up” talk.
‘Thor: Ragnarok’ might have taken some of the wind out of ‘Justice League”s sails. The Marvel movie is in its third weekend and took in $20.3M. Perhaps if these two superhero movies weren’t stacked so close together, that $20.3M could have gone into ‘Justice League”s coffers and it would have opened more in line with projections. It certainly didn’t help that ‘Thor’ was loved by critics (92% on RT) and audiences alike. ‘Justice League’ had a lot to live up to in order to steal ‘Thor”s thunder and it seems that it failed to do so.
But remarkably, ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ wasn’t the #2 movie of the week. It dropped to #3, with Julia Roberts’ YA adaptation ‘Wonder’, made for a tiny $20M, raking in $28.3M. It was only expected to make between $9-14M! ‘Wonder’ received a glowing A+ CinemaScore. The book, by RJ Palacio, is part of the curriculum at elementary-middle schools, and some are even lining up field trips to see the film, which should provide an extra boost as we creep closer to Christmas vacation.
- Justice League (Warner Brothers) – $38.8M
- Wonder (Lionsgate) – $28.3M
- Thor: Ragnarok (Disney) – $20.3M
- Murder on the Orient Express (20th Century Fox) – $14.1M
- Daddy’s Home 2 (Paramount) – $13.6M
Sadly, things won’t look up for ‘Justice League’ next week. It may hold strong, but the family audience will be flocking to Disney/Pixar’s ‘Coco’.
Check back to see how things turn out!
Did you see ‘Justice League’ this weekend? Are you shocked that it opened lower than expected? Or does that sound about right to you?