Three reasons why Justice League is struggling at the Box Office

The opening weekend box office number for the DC Extended Universe’s (DCEU’s) latest entry, Justice League, is here and the domestic take reveals a disappointing public welcoming for the film that was supposed to be the crown jewel of Warner Bros.’ DC cinematic universe.

According to numbers released by Warner Bros., the film starring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and Flash brought in just $96 million domestically, which falls far short of the early tracking for the film which was believed to be closer to $110 to $120 million.

So how did we get to a point where the first ever Justice League is provoking a collective “meh” from moviegoers? Here are the three primary reasons.

1.  DCEU BRAND DAMAGE

It wasn’t always like this. Audience excitement for DC films was at an all-time high prior to the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and the opening weekend figures proved it, with the film raking in $166 million dollars on its first weekend here in the states. That was followed up just a few months later with Suicide Squad’s opening weekend take of $133 million. However, both of those films were universally panned by critics, and were divisive among fans and the general public.

Given the public’s excitement leading up to Batman v Superman, and then subsequent disappointment with the editing, choppy narrative and odd plot choices that saw a the “Death of Superman” comic arc get combined with “The Dark Knight Returns” comic series, Justice League’s perceived proximity to the ‘Dawn of Justice’ might have been its undoing. The brand damage that Batman v Superman, and to a lesser extent Suicide Squad, did doomed Justice League before it could ever get to the public.

It’s a difficult notion to come to terms with, but the public might not trust DC films anymore—or at least the ones that are connected to past perceived failures (which is why Wonder Woman likely worked, in addition to it being a quality film).

2. POOR PUBLICITY 

It’s hard for any company these days to keep up with the wildfire of rumors that the internet can ignite at any given moment. However, for practically a year leading up to the film’s release there were clickbait rumors, reputable reports and general hearsay coming out that helped form a negative perception of the film. In hindsight, it appears some of them were true, but many were not.

From the countless times Batman-On-Film went out of its way to tell us what a “mess” the film was going to be, to the dozens and dozens of reports regarding the film’s reshoots, a picture was painted that there was no direction for the film and they were constantly starting and reshooting over the top of the original plan. For too many movie-goers, this meant that they were going to be walking into another ‘Dawn of Justice.’ And that was a hill too steep to climb.




3. NEW FILM, SAME STUDIO MISTAKES

Part of what made Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice such a poorly received film among the critics and divisive for the general public was the decision from Warner Bros. execs to have the film cut out a significant amount of the movie in order to get the overall run time down. The end result of this was the narrative for Dawn of Justice was messy at best. We had no idea why characters were behaving the way they were or why the plot moved in the direction it did. Once the “Ultimate Cut” of the film came out on Blu-Ray, fans realized how superior of a cut this was, and the studio came under fire.

Fast forward to Justice League and what happened? The same thing. As a mandate from Warner Bros. CEO, Kevin Tsujihara, the film had to be under two hours. While this might not have been a big hurdle had the mandate come during pre-production, it came in September or October of this year—meaning just a month or less from the film’s debut. Which is crazy. Very crazy. And once again a common critique is that the plot feels clunky and rushed.

Same mistake. Different movie. Same outcome.

However, the outcome has led to poor reviews and the ultimate death knell for the opening box office return was the Rotten Tomatoes score, which was poor. The score however, is indicative of the studio interference that mirrors interference as part of the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. So, five films into the universe, and mistakes are being repeated. Unfortunately for fans, the DCEU is now in jeopardy as a result.

Time will tell as to where the DCEU goes from here.




Written by | Omar Hussain

Omar Hussain serves as the Publisher and Managing Editor of the Heroic Universe.