Box Office Report: 'Justice League' on Track to Be a Huge Disappointment

Box Office Report: 'Justice League' on Track to Be a Huge Disappointment

Nov 20, 2017

Justice LeagueHere's your estimated 3-day box office returns (new releases bolded):

1. Justice League - $96.0 million ($96.0 million total)

2. Wonder - $27.0 million ($27.0 million total)

3. Thor: Ragnarok - $21.7 million ($247.3 million total)

4. Daddy’s Home 2 - $14.8 million ($50.5 million total)

5. Murder on the Orient Express - $13.8 million ($51.7 million total)

6. The Star - $10.0 million ($10.0 million total)

7. A Bad Moms Christmas - $6.8 million ($50.9 million total)

8. Lady Bird - $2.5 million ($4.7 million total)

9. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - $1.11 million ($1.5 million total)

10. Jigsaw - $1.07 million ($36.4 million total)


The Big Stories

If someone were to win the $119 million Powerball jackpot this weekend and took the lump sum they would be roughly looking at $75 million. After upfront taxes they would be down to somewhere between $52-57 million, depending what state they live in. That would be cause for some disappointment, wouldn’t it? Of course no one shed any tears for someone winning a $52 million jackpot. Case in point, Warner Bros. finally released Justice League into theaters this weekend, the first live-action pairing of these heroes ever. It pulled in $96 million, something that only 52 other films in box office history have achieved. And yet, it is a disappointment. You can choose whether or not to shed a tear based on your reaction to the film, but it is still important to understand why this is more than just a disappointment.


Is This Justice?

It is easy to rub salt in the wounds of those who believe in some kind of fanboy war between DC and Marvel comics, given that 11 of the 17 films in the latter’s cinematic universe has opened to $93 million or higher. If you want to add lemon juice into the equation, Justice League is the first DC film (of the new Universe) to not break $100 million. 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) all achieved that feat and it was Patti Jenkins’ film that bested them all with $412.5 million. BvS is the worldwide champion with $873 million. When Marvel got the band together after giving Iron Man, Thor and Captain America their own movies (OK, The Incredible Hulk too, but it wasn’t Ruffalo’s Hulk), The Avengers opened the summer of 2012 to $207.4 million; still the third-highest opening weekend in history. Again, Justice League opened to $96 million, two weeks after Thor: Ragnarok opened to $122 million. Petty battles over who the bigger heroes are come off as a sideshow compared to the bottom line facing the financiers of Justice League at this point.

Justice League has pulled in an additional $185 million overseas, bringing its current worldwide total to over $281 million, but consider this. BvS reportedly cost $250 million and even with extensive P&A costs still turned a profit with its aforementioned worldwide gross. With the necessary reshoots, Justice League’s budget reportedly soared to $300 million and that’s BEFORE P&A. Zack Snyder’s previous "Superman" films have hardly inspired repeat viewings. Man of Steel’s final multiple after opening weekend was just 2.49. BvS is one of the all-time mega-budget lows with a pathetic 1.99. Justice League’s Rotten Tomatoes score (40%) is not as bad as BvS’ 27% or Suicide Squad’s 25% (which managed a 2.43 multiple) but of those 52 films we referenced, these three films join two Twilight films (New Moon, Breaking Dawn Part 1) and three Transformers (Revenge of the Fallen, Dark of the Moon, Age of Extinction) as the only films on that list to come in under 40% with critics. Eight out of 52 and the DC Universe has three of them. Now the average multiple of those seven other films is just 2.61. Take two of the Transformers films out of the equation and it sinks to 2.19. It’s a huge disappointment to know that Justice League may not even come close to $300 million now. But it’s something even worse to think that there is a possibility it fails to reach $200 million.


Tales of the Top Ten

The great surprise of the weekend was seeing Lionsgate’s Wonder touch audiences right where they need it right now. The great Jacob Tremblay (from Room, where he was robbed of an Oscr nomination) as a boy with facial deformities going to school for the first time pulled in a robust $27 million. That’s a solid start for the $20 million production. Thinking it could turn into this year’s The Blind Side ($34.1 million opening / $255.9 million finish) may be wishful for the 83%-approved film. But aside from Coco opening this week, there is very little to push this out of the top five, let alone the top three until Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens. Ron Shelton’s Just Getting Started is the only film getting a wide release (other than Coco and Roman J. Israel, Esq. which only made $56,000 on four screens this weekend) over the next three weeks and I’ll bet Wonder beats even that in its fourth weekend. Pay attention to this one as it could turn out to be the real breakout success of the season and may even become an outside hopeful at the Oscars.

Thor: Ragnarok took quite the dip thanks to Justice League this week. A 68% drop has now taken it down from Spider-Man: Homecoming’s pace down to that of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. It is still a couple million ahead of its final $295 million gross and a couple more ahead of its third weekend, but what seemed like a guarantee of $300 million last week has now become a question mark. Still, with over $738 million worldwide, nobody is going to label this a disappointment. Speaking of big dips, Paramount’s Daddy’s Home 2 and Fox’s Murder on the Orient Express both dropped 50-51%. The latter is going to be a success thanks to its steady pace towards $80 million domestic and even greater numbers overseas ($96.5 million so far.) Daddy’s Home 2, meanwhile, is going to end the year (and the last 18 months) for Paramount on a sour note as it needs to collect over $200 million worldwide for it to get into the black. Speaking of sour, Sony cannot be happy that their 62%-approved animated film The Star opened to barely more money ($10 million) than Adam Sandler’s 12%-approved Eight Crazy Nights back in November 2002 ($9.4 million). Inflation would actually bring Sandler’s film to about $12.7 million.

In limited release news, Martin McDonagh’s 94%-approved Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri made an impressive $1.1 million in just 53 theaters (up from last week’s $322,168 in four theaters). Again, you have to go back to 2011 to find two films that did as well in as few theaters – The Descendants ($1.19 million in 29 theaters) and Kevin Hart: Laugh At My Pain ($1.9 million in 98) – and now we have two in 2017. Last week Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird made $1.19 million in just 37 theaters. The 100%-approved film (with 146 reviews) at Rotten Tomatoes jumped up to 238 theaters and it's headed up the top ten with another $2.4 million. Its total gross of $4.6 million has already made it the 14th best grossing in A24’s history. It only needs $27.8 million to best Moonlight. Along with Wonder, both of these movies are worth keeping an eye on as we head into awards season.

If you want to listen to Erik Childress’ Holiday Box Office Prediction Show, you can download the podcast.

Erik Childress can be heard each week evaluating box office on WGN Radio with Nick Digilio as well as on Business First AM with Angela Miles and his Movie Madness Podcast.

[Box office figures via Box Office Mojo.]

Categories: Features, Box office, Geek, Indie
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