The first film to bring DC’s A-list heroes together on the big screen has finally arrived — and while it should’ve been the biggest yet, it’s turning into a stark failure for the DCEU.
Justice League was originally projected to bring in around $110-120 million in the U.S. on its opening weekend. That wouldn't have been a mind-blowing total, but getting over the $100 million hump would’ve shown there was still some excitement to see what Warner Bros. could do with all its heroes on the screen at once. Well, the final numbers are in: $96 million. That’s all Justice League could muster in its domestic opening. For the sake of reference, it’s the lowest opening of any DCEU film. Wonder Woman, a film that cost far less to make, hit $103 million; Batman v Superman racked up $166 million; and even Suicide Squad scored $133 million.
A film about C-list DC villains made more money on its opening weekend than DC’s preeminent superhero team. This should’ve been DC’s Avengers (a film that made $207 million on its opening weekend in the U.S., for what it’s worth) as far as commercial success. It’s nowhere near that stratosphere. It’s worth noting that the international box-office take is looking a bit more promising, but no matter how that turns out, this film underperformed. Big time. It’s even worse if you go back to the original expectations for the DCEU. Warner Bros. viewed this as a project that could be an event of Star Wars-level proportions. Instead, it got whipped by the latest Thor sequel (which was admittedly awesome, but still).
The massive success of Thor: Ragnarok shows audiences clearly haven’t soured on superhero movies. But folks are finally getting discerning enough that they only want to see the good ones. With Justice League riding a wave of mediocre reviews, it seems regular moviegoers finally soured on rolling the dice on anything with a “DC” logo on it. The devoted fans will still turn out to help you make some money, but when you’re talking about a movie that cost at least $300 million to make (and then a whole lot more to market), $96 million isn’t enough. Not by a long shot.
So what does this mean for the future of the DCEU? It’s anyone’s guess. Warner Bros. has been open about the fact that the next phase could depend on the success (or failure) of Justice League. Aquaman is already in the can, and it stands to reason Warner Bros. wouldn’t be crazy enough to cancel Wonder Woman 2, but what about everything else? Will the studio still roll the dice on Flashpoint? Or The Batman? Or Cyborg? Or Green Lantern Corps? They’re all bigger gambles than Justice League, which was supposed to be one of the surest bets in comic book movies.
There were certainly some positives in Justice League, but as critics made clear, it was far from perfect. Warner Bros. has always been a bit reactionary with its DC slate up to this point, and Justice League’s stumbles will almost certainly cause some reevaluations during the coming months.
What’s your take on the fallout? What should DC do next in the wake of Justice League?