As you can see, the critical response doesn’t seem to match the audience scores (Rotten Tomatoes).
As a fan of the live action comic book movies, I may hold a little bias but – I really enjoyed Justice League and I certainly do not think that it deserves the negative critical response that it has recieved. The fifth installement by WB of the DC cinematic universe, features the Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg, and The Flash, all coming together for a single team building blockbuster. However, the latest blockbuster has stumbled at the US box office, falling below expectations.
Justice League has taken $96m on release weekend in the US. This was below the analyst projections of between $110 and $120 million. This, to date, makes it the lowest entry, for the DC franchise, to the US box office. When comparing this to other Marvel and DC live action releases, this also looks concerning. For example, Man of Steel (2013) made $116.6m, Suicide Squad made $113.7m, Batman v Superman made $166m. So how does this compare to the Marvel universe? Well this also doesn’t paint a good picture either (remember this is US only). The first Avengers film took $207m, Age of Ultron made $191.3m and Thor: Ragnorok, Marvel’s latest release, took $122.7m.
The chart above shows Thor against Justice League over 4 weeks (16 in total) in the US. As you can see, Justice league hasn’t started so well. If we were to compare Jusitce League to Wonder Woman over the first 4 days in the US you can see that they start very similar but WW then continues to increase it’s multiplier over time, possibly due to positive WOM.
- Day 1: JL: $38m. WW: $38m
Day 2: JL: $71.4m WW: $73m
Day 3: JL: $93.8m WW: $103.2m
Day 4: JL: $101.3m WW: $115m
But why? Well, it could be to do with the underwhelming critical reviews of the film which currently holds a 40% Rotten Tomatoes score and 46 on Metacritic. Mas it too was affected by the “Twitter Effect”; which I discussed on a previous post.
So let’s look at the UK data ….
The data above compares UK opening box office releases for both DC and Marvel releases.
So did JL really under perform in the UK? Well, maybe. However, JL has a better opening that Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (£6m), Ant-Man (£4m), Guardians of the Galaxy (£6m) and Captain America (£6m). Although both GOTG films have a higher multiplier 6+ and 7+ from opening weekend. The buzz of these films ensured that the film performed consistently well, over time.
Justice League opened, in the UK, with larger returns than Wonder Woman. However, it is what it does next, in the UK, which will be a measure of it’s success. With a production budget of around $300m (not including P&A), even the total of Batman v Superman, with a multiplier value of 3.6, of £53m may not be enough. WB may have to see how the international markets perform. Like GOTG, Wonder Woman benefited from a very positive word of mouth (WOM), with a 4.5+ multiplier on total weekend box office figures. Compare this with Batman v Superman which had a multiplier of 3.6.
I expect Justice League to be around a similar multiplier to BvS, which would give Justice League a total UK weekend box office of around £25m. This would put it as the same point as Ant-Man, which made a total UK box office of £25.1m.
Maybe the numbers will force DC and WB to change how they approach the franchise in the future. However, it doesn’t appear that the UK receives DC in the same way in which they do with Marvel, even with Wonder Woman, the opening weekend was lower in comparison.
Worryingly it’s the wider implications that any financial loss has on the future of DC films. Rob Cain, former studio executive, producer, and film finance consultant (Forbes) suggests:
- The final collection will stand at $235 million (domestically) and $400 million (internationally). The total could be somewhere close to $635 million worldwide, gross, making Justice League the lowest-grossing among the five DCEU releases so far.
- Worldwide home entertainment, including subscription VOD and online sales, will earn another $170 million. Global TV revenues could stand at $100 million.
- WB could earn an estimated $545 million in net revenue from the film, as against a $600 million estimated cost to make, market, and release Justice League.
- While the losses calculated as of now are $50 million, the numbers could touch $100 million depending on factors like overhead costs, time to collect on residuals and actual marketing costs for the studio. But this is some solid estimate, pointing out how big a mess WB could be in.
The article also suggests that any financial implications could have a ripple effect on how future Superhero films are budgeted, forcing them to think about how to budget at $100m. This could be compared to recent projects such as Deadpool ($58 million) and Logan ($97 million) which were made below $100 and earned back huge returns on investment. This could prove difficult for DC and their god like characters who rely heavily on CGI.
Are we about the see the genre of the Superhero film evolve to ensure it’s survival? One thing is for sure, the Superhero franchises are here to stay but may look slightly different moving forward – especially for DC.
A theatrical engagement is defined as the movie playing in a single theater for one week. So, for example, a film that plays in 3,000 theaters in its first week and 2,000 theaters in its second week will have had 5,000 theatrical engagements.
UK data was sources from BFI data statistics.
US box office data sourced from Box Office Mojo.
This post was written by noxford