The cat’s out of the bag at this point: Justice League is not doing so hot. The superhero crossover movie was supposed to be DC’s (and, by extention, Warner Bros’) answer to The Avengers and spurn the DCEU into its next phase of development. It was supposed to make up for all of the franchises mistakes, particularly Batman v Superman. It was supposed to be where everything finally came together.
Of course, none of those things happened. Justice League garnered rotten reviews and audiences, fed up with waiting on Warner Bros to get its act together, unexpectedly stayed home. Other than a gory, R-rated deconstruction of the genre and an animated movie where everything is made out of Legos, Justice League was the worst-opening superhero movie of the year. Even within just the DCEU, it has the sad distinction of coming in last place.
All this has been bad news for Warner Bros, who spent a fortune on the movie and was desperately relying on it to at least turn a profit. It’s $300+ million budget (and $300+ million advertising and distribution costs) translate to the movie needing to make $700+ million before it so much as broke even. As of last week, it was expected to lose between $100 and $150 million over the course of its theatrical lifetime.
But, given its rapidly diminishing returns at the box office, it might prove to be even worse than its opening would suggest. Based on its current box office trajectory, it will in all likelihood be the overall worst-performing movie of the DCEU: failing to match even Man of Steel’s minimum success four years ago.
In the three weeks since its release, Justice League has grossed $197 million domestically and not quiet double that internationally: totally somewhere in the neighborhood of $567 million. Although impressive on the surface, we are talking about a movie that needs to make hundreds of millions more dollars before it can fully cover the costs of making and releasing it to the general public. Its incoming revenue has slowed to a crawl and is likely to disappear entirely by the time that The Last Jedi takes over the box office.
As it stands right now, Justice League will fail to make the $291 million domestic and $668 million overall that Man of Steel – the divisive debut of the ill-fated DCEU – made in 2013: further bad news for a franchise seemingly capable of generating nothing else. Between it, Wonder Woman and mini-teamup Dawn of Justice all out-performing the inaugural run of the full team, Justice League really is less than the sum of its parts.