Theatrical moviegoing will be at its zenith for a third weekend in a row as Warner Bros’ 10-years-in-the-making DC superhero teamup Justice League finally opens. It’s expected to score $325 million-$355 million worldwide in its opening frame at the box office, propped by 4,040 stateside locations and a day-and-date global launch that includes China.
Among all-time global openings, Justice League‘s projection lands it above the debuts of Warner Bros/DC’s Suicide Squad ($267M) and Fox/Marvel’s Deadpool ($264.7M) and just below Disney/Marvel’s Iron Man 3 ($372.5M).
Broken out, Justice League looking at $11oM-$120M this weekend at the domestic box office and anywhere from $215M-$235M overseas.
Why 10 years in the making? Because that’s when Warner Bros first began cracking the idea to do a Justice League movie. Unfortunately, the 2007-2008 WGA strike prevented the movie from going forward. Soon after the release of Zack Snyder’s 2013 Man of Steel, the current iteration of Justice League began brewing, first off a David Goyer script, then pursuing Chris Terrio as they were impressed by his Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice script. By April 2014, Snyder committed to direct.
During production, Snyder had a family tragedy and Joss Whedon stepped in to do reshoots and finish post production; ultimately, he earned a screenplay credit with Terrio.
Given how Thor: Ragnarok rallied and how last weekend’s counter-programming crop of Daddy’s Home 2 and Murder on the Orient Express overindexed, don’t be surprised if Justice League overperforms stateside. Not just because of the renewed vibrancy in the marketplace, but also because of the halo from Warner Bros/DC’s Wonder Woman, which was the highest-grossing film of the summer at the domestic box office with $412.6M. That female superhero movie became something anthemic for young girls and women who fueled the title to become the highest-grossing live-action film for a female director both worldwide ($821.8M) and for its domestic opening ($103.2M). Feeding into this fervor, the Justice League trailers post San Diego Comic-Con have featured a scene showing Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman saving school children from menacing terrorists in London. Hence, it comes as no surprise to see that in a recent Fandango poll, 84% of those who plan on attending this weekend saw Wonder Woman this summer, with many potential moviegoers yearning to see Gadot and Jason Momoa’s Aquaman on the big screen.
Advance ticket sales for Justice League at this point in time are outpacing Wonder Woman.
Today there was some noise about Justice League‘s Rotten Tomatoes score being held up until Thursday at 12:01 AM, after an embargo lifts later tonight. While that’s a plus for Warner Bros — especially after fanboys ganged up on Snyder’s Batman v. Superman at 27% Rotten — the real reason for the delay has to do with a new Rotten Tomatoes Facebook show See It/Skip It, on which Justice League’s RT score will be revealed. STXfilms’ A Bad Moms Christmas employed the same PR stunt prior to their first Friday on November 3.
In the U.S. and Canada, Justice League will have all the superpowers of 400 Imax locations, 600 premium large-format screens, 200 motion seat venues, 200 Dine-In locations and 60 drive-ins, with 83% of the pic’s theater count also offering 3D showtimes.
Offshore exchange-rate swings, particularly in the UK following the June 2016 Brexit vote, and also in Latin America (which reps as much as a 38% change in some currencies), may push the dollar result down on Justice League versus its most obvious comp, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. But, there is a belief that this Avengers-style gathering could get up to BVS levels. That film bowed to $254M globally in a 2016 release off huge anticipation for the caped guys’ face-off.
Stripping out Japan (where Justice League doesn’t open this weekend) would land the BVS opening at $250M in historical rates. Deadline understands that translates to about $220M in today’s dollars.
Still, some watchers believe everyone should take a chill-pill against that opening and are skewing far downward, suggesting the “new” characters of Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash are not a built-in draw. Others see Justice League as an opportunity to stand Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego alongside Diana Prince’s Wonder Woman, which would push the opening gross up. Wonder Woman lassoed $125M in 55 markets in June this year. Fewer markets mean the comp is not apples-to-apples, but again the Gadot halo factor is expected to factor in overseas as well. And that may be a part of what could send this gathering closer to the BVS realm.
The main comp here is still Batman Vs Superman, which was front-loaded at 47% of its opening weekend contributing to a $543M international final. Also, it opened over Easter weekend in 2016, a holiday in much of the world. This coming frame’s domestic Thanksgiving period does not translate abroad. When BVS launched in 2016, it was the No. 5 best opener ever at the overseas box office. It has since been surpassed by this year’s The Fate Of The Furious .
China, of course, is a swing here. As with the rest of the world, it’s coming off Thor: Ragnarok, which has been playing for a few weeks. It’s at $95M-plus through Sunday in the Middle Kingdom. There’s room for Justice League to muscle in. BVS had a nearly $58M opening there in 2016, but never reached $100M. Late last month, the Super Friends flew to the Middle Kingdom to premiere the pic and hold a press tour. (In the UK, as far as Justice League promotions, Momoa cut a fine figure on Graham Norton’s UK couch last week and last night the Hollywood premiere was held with the red carpet live-streamed on YouTube. There was a London premiere too.)
China, nevertheless was BVS’ top overseas play followed by the UK, Brazil, Mexico, Australia and France. (Early French buzz on Justice League, which bows there first on Wednesday, is very positive).
Thor 3 is also a natural comp given its proximity to the Justice League opening. It’s still in play, coming out of its third international frame well on its way across $500M, besting its predecessors and many stablemates. China is its top play, followed by the UK, Korea, Australia and Brazil.
Wonder Woman also acts as a comp given the DC heroine features squarely in the middle of League. Her top markets were China, Brazil, the UK, Australia and Mexico. And her final offshore gross was $409.2M.