Will ‘Justice League’ Perform Like ‘Wonder Woman’ or ‘Suicide Squad’ at the Box Office?

$100 million-plus opening is all but assured for DC’s big team-up

Justice League
Clay Enos/Warner Bros.

Since releasing “Wonder Woman” five months ago, Warner Bros. has had a successful run at the box office, making more than $1 billion in domestic grosses from films like “Dunkirk,” “Annabelle: Creation,” and most recently, “It.” Now, the studio will try to cap off its 2017 slate in a big way with another DC Extended Universe film — the one that hardcore comic book movie fans have been awaiting for years: “Justice League.”

The question is, will the film’s box office returns mirror those of “Wonder Woman” or be more like last year’s DC installments, “Batman v Superman” and “Suicide Squad”? A nine-digit opening is all but assured for the team-up film, with both the studio and independent trackers expecting an opening of $105-$115 million from 4,040 screens. By comparison, “Wonder Woman” opened to $103 million this summer while “Suicide Squad” got a $133 million launch and “BvS” started with $166 million. The buzz from “Wonder Woman” is already carrying over into “JL,” as Fandango and MovieTickets.com report that advance ticket sales are outpacing those of Diana Prince’s big solo debut.

But after their opening weekends, the previous DC films had a reversal of fortune. “BvS” and “Suicide Squad,” hampered by poor critical and audience reception, fell off by more than 65 percent in their second weekend. “Wonder Woman,” on the other hand, had a drop-off of 43 percent in week two and passed the domestic total for “BvS” in just five weeks. “WW” finished with a domestic total of $412.5 million, a total four times that of its opening. For a film with an opening of more than $100 million, a 4x multiple is very rare. By contrast, “BvS” made $330.3 million and a 1.98x multiple, while “Suicide Squad” made $325 million and 2.44x multiple.

“Justice League” will have the advantage of having its second weekend on Thanksgiving weekend, which could further buoy its holdover numbers as Disney-Pixar’s “Coco” will be the only major competition. But word-of-mouth will be essential to its long-term performance. Social media buzz from early screenings seems to be fairly positive, with viewers calling it a “flawed but fun” film. Reviews will be published starting at 11:50 PM PT Tuesday, with Rotten Tomatoes providing a score on Thursday.

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“Justice League” stars Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, J.K. Simmons, Ciaran Hinds, and Henry Cavill. Zack Snyder directed the film from a script by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon, the latter of whom stepped in to complete the film after Snyder stepped down following the death of his daughter.

Two other films with projected openings around $10 million are also slated for release this week. One is Lionsgate’s “Wonder,” which features “Room” star Jacob Tremblay as a boy with a deformed face who tries to fit in at a new school with the help of his parents (Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson). The film is projected to make $8-$9 million this weekend from 3,300 screens against a $20 million budget co-financed by Participant Media, Walden Media and TIK Films. Steven Chbosky directed the film from a script he co-wrote with Jack Thorne and Steven Conrad, and is based on the novel of the same name by R.J. Palacio. It has a 77 percent Rotten Tomatoes score.

The other film is Sony Pictures’ “The Star,” an animated Christmas film about the animals involved in the Nativity story. That film is also  expected to open to $8-$9 million from 2,800 screens against a $20 million budget. The film is being released through Sony’s Affirm Films banner and co-financed by Walden Media.