Warner Brothers may currently hold the number two highest grossing film of the year with DC’s Wonder Woman, but Hollywood had even bigger expectations for Justice League. Under the assumption that they could repeat the super box office syrum created by Marvel Studios, WB’s attempts at an expanded DC Universe have not only been critically smashed, but fans have also been repeatedly disappointed with the outcome. No amount of advertising could dissipate the lingering stink of films like Man of Steel, Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad.
Forbes initially estimated that Justice League would make between $120 and $130 million in its opening weekend, and analysts were even predicting between $110 to $120 million heading into the weekend. In reality, it couldn’t crack 9 digits and finished its first three days of release with $93 million, a major blow. Analysts are now predicting that it will top off its domestic box office run just barely over $200 million total, while Thor: Ragnarok is nearly at $250 million in its third week of release. While Justice League stars Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, three of the biggest comic superheroes of all time, the third Thor film contains two of the least popular founding Avengers.
To me, the biggest difference between Marvel Studios and this new wave of DC pictures is that Marvel films not only have compelling characters, stories, and worlds, but they also have a lot of fun with the material. Not every Marvel Studios film is a laugh riot, but you expect to smile and feel inspired by the end of each film. The DC films are contrastingly dark and with the exception of Wonder Woman (which heavily borrowed plot points from Captain America: The First Avenger), they generally leave you down and asking, “What just happened?”
To gloat, here’s a list of 11 Marvel Studios films that had bigger opening weekends than Justice League:
- Marvel’s The Avengers – $207 million
- Avengers: Age of Ultron – $191 million
- Captain America: Civil War – $179 million
- Iron Man 3 – $174 million
- Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 – $146 million
- Iron Man 2 – $128 million
- Thor: Ragnarok – $122 million
- Spider-Man: Homecoming – $117 million
- Iron Man – $99 million
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier – $95 million
- Guardians of the Galaxy – $94 million
And about that number 1 film at the box office… it’s Disney’s live action remake of Beauty and the Beast. However, I expect that to be dethroned by the end of the year. If we’re looking at The Force Awakens as any indication, nothing will outperform Star Wars: The Last Jedi. In the end, Disney should finish the year with 4 of the top 5 highest grossing films of the year. DC will have just one, and it won’t be Justice League. Sorry, not sorry.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.