Justice League is off to a solid start at the domestic box office, following its Thursday evening preview screenings. The film is the fifth installment in the DC shared cinematic universe (also known as the DC Extended Universe), following the release of the divisive Man of Steel in 2013, last year's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad (both of which were commercial hits, but critical duds), and this past summer's critical darling/box office smash success, Wonder Woman.
With Justice League's Rotten Tomatoes score and rating from Metacritic being higher than those for Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad, but well below Wonder Woman's, it raises the question: how will the film's critical reception impact its run at the box office? For now, the movie appears to be performing according to expectations heading into the weekend (though the movie's long-term performance will probably be another story).
Variety is reporting Justice League pulled in $13 million from its Thursday night previews at domestic theaters. That number is less than half of Batman v Superman's $27.7 million Thursday debut back in March 2016, but ahead of Wonder Woman's $11 million debut from earlier this year.
Unfortunately for Justice League, it's unlikely to have the legs that Wonder Woman did at the box office. That film's positive word-of-mouth saw unprecedented numbers of people pour into theaters week after week, something most blockbusters don't manage after their debut. All the same, Justice League will likely do well internationally, just like both of DC's 2016 films did.
The other unfortunate news for DC fans is that Justice League fell short of Thor: Ragnarok's Thursday opening, which saw the Marvel film post $14.5 domestically. Still, the vast differences in critical reception between the two proves that not all moviegoers are deterred by poor reviews. For DC fans, Justice League certainly delivers plenty of comic nods, big action scenes, and fun character dynamics. Likely, positive feedback from general moviegoers will encourage other fans of the previous DC films to give it a shot, at some point.
In the end, Justice League should have no problem landing a sizable worldwide gross. The question is, will it ultimately make enough to cover its estimated $300 million production budget, on top of its marketing costs? Justice League will need to perform as well as its predecessors if Warner Bros. Pictures hopes to see a profit. By the end of the weekend, it should be clearer whether or not Justice League will be able to clear that hurdle.
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