The DC heroes may be stronger together than they are apart, but the combined might of Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, and the rest of the Justice League weren’t enough to keep the new Zack-Snyder-directed film from suffering the lowest opening weekend gross in the DC Extended Universe so far.
This is a massive shortfall compared to 2016’s Batman v Superman, which opened with a $166 million debut, and puts Justice League in dead last behind the other DCEU movies (Suicide Squad – $133 million, Man of Steel – $116 million, and Wonder Woman – $103 million).
The story was better overseas, with Justice League picking up an additional $185.5 million, bringing its worldwide total up to $281.5 million. With a reported production budget of $250 million, Justice League’s dismal opening is bad news for Warner Bros., though the studio was quick to point out that they expect the film to have staying power over the coming weeks.
“Our path to box-office success is different than what we thought. Given the extremely lucrative Thanksgiving week, we have a chance to hold audiences and ultimately come in at a good level,” says Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution.
Still, there is cause for concern here — not only because Justice League underperformed compared to every other film in the DCEU, but fell far short of the milestones set by DC’s biggest rival, Marvel Studios. Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok, released just two weeks ago, jumped to $122.7 million right out of the gate (it also performed better overseas). Interestingly, this is the first time in history that two major studio superhero movies have opened so close together and compared to Marvel’s Avengers movies, Justice League’s numbers look positively anemic. In 2012, The Avengers launched with a $204.7 million domestic debut, while its sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron earned $191.3 million in its opening weekend.
We’ll have to wait and see if Justice League can hold steady at the box office in the coming weeks before labeling it a success or failure for Warner Bros., but right now, it’s hard to imagine that the strength of the DC Universe brand isn’t in serious doubt.