It's something that few could have predicted, but Warner Bros. could potentially lose as much as $100 million on Justice League. DC Films' first crack at an ensemble superhero movie did not pan out the same way everyone thought it would. The movie has prompted mixed reactions from critics, in addition to earning a B+ Cinemascore and an underwhelming Rotten Tomato Score rating. While the film could have done far worse both critically and commercially, that doesn't mean it's anywhere near a success either.
The blockbuster nabbed $96 million in its opening weekend domestically, far from the $110-120 million that it was tracking for but a couple of weeks earlier. Justice League's U.S. debut was the lowest for a DC Film release yet, which is all the more ironic given that it was supposed to be Warner Bros.' superhero crown jewel. Internationally, the film did better, earning $281.5 million, but even that may not be enough to ensure that the expensive blockbuster is a commercial success. Case in point, it's now being reported that Justice League might not even turn a profit and worse, it could lose its studio a significant amount of money.
Forbes has broken down the numbers in an effort to gauge what the movie's total gross will be. Justice League's overall budget ballooned to reportedly $300 million due to reshoots, with an additional $150 million for its marketing. That's a total of $450 million spent on the movie, in addition to the global home entertainment costs ($60 million), talent guild residuals ($20 million), interest expense ($20 million), and finally talent costs to cover the cast, crew, and producers ($50 million). Final cost? Around $600 million.
To complete the equation, Forbes has made an educated guess based on the current box office trajectory of the movie, with the domestic haul possibly ending up at $235 million (2.45 multiplied by the film's opening weekend haul, with 2.45 being the median multiplier for the last 4 films from the franchise). Internationally, Justice League could pocket as much as $400 million, assuming it performs along the lines of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. That would give the film $635 million in earnings worldwide, roughly $545 million of which would end up in WB's bank account. Should that be the case, that would result in at least a $55 million loss - before taking into account factors like overhead costs and the amount of time it takes for the film to earn revenue from other channels than the box office, which could drive the total to $100 million.
This, in turn, puts DC Films' larger franchise plans in a tough spot. While James Wan's Aquaman has already finished filming and both David F. Sandberg's Shazam! and Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman 2 are expected to keep moving forward as planned, there are currently several other DC movies in development - including, Nightwing, Suicide Squad 2, and Batgirl - that are now in danger of falling by the wayside, once WB and DC decide how best to move forward from here. Of course, given that it has just been a couple of days since Justice League was released in theaters around the world, it's best to not jump to too many conclusions either way just yet.
Case in point, it's possible that Justice League will hold up better than expected over the impending Thanksgiving holiday frame, improving its chances of not posting a $100 million loss in the process. That being said, Pixar's Coco is projected to open strongly at the U.S. box office and may even outgross Justice League over the frame. Whichever way you cut it, Justice League is facing an uphill battle from here.
- Wonder Woman 2 (2019) release date: Nov 01, 2019
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Justice League (2017) release date: Nov 17, 2017
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Green Lantern Corps. (2020) release date: Jul 24, 2020
- Cyborg (2020) release date: Apr 03, 2020