The box office delivered a shock this weekend, as “Justice League” is about to become the first installment of the DC Extended Universe to fall short of $100 million in its opening weekend.
With an estimated $96 million from 4,051 screens, it’s 44 percent lower than the series-best $166 million opening by “Batman v Superman” last year, and the lowest opening for a live-action Warner Bros./DC film since “Green Lantern” in 2011.
This film was supposed to be the high point for the DCEU, following off the momentum made by “Wonder Woman” earlier this year by having the popular heroine join forces with Batman, Cyborg, The Flash, Aquaman and a resurrected Superman. Instead, it’s falling well short of the $110-120 million projection target set by studios and won’t even register in the top 50 highest opening weekends of all-time.
CinemaScore audiences gave the film a B+ — a score equal to “Suicide Squad” — with 58 percent of the polling group male and 61 percent over 25. But that hasn’t translated into strong word-of-mouth, and critics have lambasted the film with a 39 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. “Justice League” has grossed $281 million worldwide, with box office analysts telling TheWrap that the film will need to gross $700 million worldwide to break even.
“JL” should be able to reach that mark, and Warner Bros. will be fine in the short term with the box office revenue they’ve built from recent big successes like “Wonder Woman” and “It.” But this was supposed to be this franchise’s “Avengers,” and with Pixar’s critically-acclaimed “Coco” coming out next weekend for Thanksgiving moviegoers, “Justice League” could take a big second weekend drop similar to what “Suicide Squad” and “BvS” suffered after their openings.
On the flip side, there’s Lionsgate’s “Wonder,” a $20 million inspirational family film that’s beating expectations with $27 million from 3,096 screens. The film was projected to make around $10 million before the weekend, but the tracking didn’t factor in the elementary school crowd who don’t always have the biggest social media presence and who have read R.J. Palacio’s novel as part of their schoolwork. The film was also a smash hit with older female audiences, as it got an A+ on CinemaScore from opening night crowds that were two-thirds female and over 25. It has an 83 percent RT rating.
“Thor: Ragnarok” is in third place with $21 million in its third weekend, consistent in performance with the $22 million third weekend total posted by “Spider-Man: Homecoming” this past summer. The Marvel film has crossed the $700 million mark worldwide, and will cross the $250 million domestic mark on Monday. Last week’s releases complete the top five with “Daddy’s Home 2” making $14.8 million for a ten-day total of $50.5 million, and “Murder on the Orient Express” making $13.5 million for a $51.5 million ten-day total. Finally, Sony/Affirm’s “The Star” opened outside the top five but slightly above tracker expectations, with the faith-based film making $10 million from 2,837 screens against a $20 million budget.