Justice League may have hit theaters at one of the most inopportune moments in recent history, landing only a few weeks after the highly lauded and very successful Thor: Ragnarok, and situated only a few weeks before a guaranteed $1 billion-plus Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and hitting the same day as The Punisher on Netflix and Star Wars: Battlefront II, both excuses for Justice League’s target audience to stay home.
Justice League also lands on a weekend that’s historically fairly reliable in its box office draw, and the weekend as a whole actually performed fairly well overall with the weekend’s total box office draw across all films actually beating the total from weekend that Thor: Ragnarok was released by about $19 million, though while Thor accounted for 68% of its opening weekend’s box office, Justice League only accounted for 47% of the box office for its own opening weekend This means that people had no problem going to the theater, but they were conciously deciding to see other movies, possibly pointing back to the erosion of the DC brand mentioned in the first secion.
Whatever the cause, there’s no two ways about it, Justice League is a massive stumble in Warner Bros. efforts to roll out a DC films universe. The behind the scenes troubles make the matter even more complicated, and it’s not known how well Zack Snyder’s original version of the movie would have fared compared to what we got, but there’s nothing to suggest it would have seen a box office bump. In fact, Snyder’s name could have caused it to slump even more, considering some disgruntled fans and audience members were only interested due to Whedon’s involvement.
Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are a number of things Warner Bros. can do to improve the universe, and the next three movies on DC’s schedule all appear to have excellent potential. The team-up’s box office disappointment will likely also extend to Aquaman, meaning the James Wan helmed solo movie featuring Jason Momoa may have to overcome some hurdles in coaxing audiences back to the theaters, but if the movie turns out as good as it seems and if David F. Sandberg’s patent lighthearted humor can bring success to Shazam, then that means Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 2 will be following the first back to back critical successes of the DCEU. Throw Matt Reeves’ The Batman in the mix along with the potential Gavin O’Connor Suicide Squad 2 and Gareth Evans Deathstroke and, in just a few years, the DCEU could be a vastly different landscape than it is today.
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