For almost any other movie that doesn’t bare the names Marvel, DC, or Star Wars, a $96 million weekend at the box office is something to celebrate. Even for movies that cost around $100 million to make, such a performance would suggest a profitable movie with marketing factored in to boot. And yet the plain fact is that JUSTICE LEAGUE‘s $96 million take this weekend is a deafening disappointment, one that now maps out a extremely perilous road for whatever the future of the DC cinematic universe had planned for next.
The movie, directed mostly by Zack Snyder with some assistance from Joss Whedon, reportedly cost $300-350 million to produce if one counts marketing costs and reshoots into the overall bill. If that number is even vaguely correct, the movie has failed to make up even a third of its budget in its opening weekend, leaving over $200 million to be made up between decreasing weekend grosses and whatever the foreign box office has to offer. The latter option might just be the thing that saves the movie but with Pixar’s hotly anticipated COCO hitting domestic theaters in three days, that’s looking like its only real hope at this point.
Of course, JUSTICE LEAGUE was not the only opener this weekend. Wonder came in second place to the DC behemoth with $27 million, while THOR: RAGNAROK continued its red-hot streak by bringing in some $21.7 million to come in at third. Below that was DADDY’S HOME 2, which brought in $14.8 million in its second frame to place fourth and seemed to confirm that we’re all just going to forget the last ten years of Mel Gibson‘s actions in the name of a few bad jokes.
Lionsgate counterprogrammed with family title WONDER against JUSTICE LEAGUE, paying off with a reported $27M, which doubles as Participant’s best opening ever (beating THE HELP‘s $26M). A year ago when Warner Bros. opened FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM, STX recklessly programmed the R-rated, critically acclaimed female-skewing title THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN and that failed to get its audience with a $4.75M opening. Given the great reception to WONDER, they scheduled it so that it could benefit off the 5x-plus multiple play.
Depending on how Oscar contenders like DARKEST HOUR and CALL ME BY YOUR NAME do next weekend, this might be our last weekend with DADDY’S HOME 2, as well as MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, which came in at fifth with $13.8 million. JUSTICE LEAGUE, on the other hand, will likely remain in the top five until STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI descends on the box office. Even if the rest of the year was completely open, however, it’s unclear if this would help DC’s latest catastrophe get free of its own fiscal quicksand.
Here’s the top five for the weekend:
1. ‘Justice League’ $96M
2. ‘Wonder’ $27.05M
3. ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ $21.78M
4. ‘Daddy’s Home 2’ $14.8M
5. ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ $13.8M