Justice League is all but guaranteed to be a big hit, if you believe the chatter around Hollywood. It’s also a terrible film, if you believe the critics. So what does that mean for Warner Bros.?
“Theatrical moviegoing will be at its zenith for a third weekend in a row as Warner Bros’ 10-years-in-the-making DC superhero team up Justice League finally opens,” Deadline reported. “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.” The film has a reported budget of approximately $300 million.
The problem is that the movie, by all reports, just isn’t very good.
“The problem is that Justice League zips back and forth between extremes, trying to encompass two different movies,” our review explains. “It happens so frequently, and without prompt, that the dizzying pace is impossible to follow. Add in mediocre acting from Ben Affleck, Steppenwolf — the most boring supervillain to grace the big screen since Victor Von Doom in Fox’s 2015 Fantastic Four — and one character’s unfortunate arc, and Justice League is proof the franchise still suffers from the same problems it did with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad.”
Bad review scores didn’t stop the tepid Batman v Superman from bringing in over $873 million against a $250 million budget, and Justice League has the advantages of coming into theaters without much serious competition from other films this weekend while also riding on the success of the amazing — commercially and critically — Wonder Woman film. Commercial success is all but assured.
That being said, Warner Bros. can’t be happy with yet another tentpole release that will bring in huge amounts of money while being ridiculed as a barely comprehensible film. That first weekend will also likely be bloated by superhero fans who buy tickets out of morbid curiosity; I’m guilty of taking my oldest son to see it tonight for exactly that reason.
The Warner Bros. DC films have also always enjoyed a particularly aggressive hardcore fanbase that is willing to defend these films to the death, so it’s clear that at least some folks will be leaving the theater after today’s previous screenings having had a good time. A recent email Warner Bros. sent me focused exclusively on fan reviews.
Warner Bros. is locked into a pair of silver handcuffs with these films. The money is too good to stop making them, but the perceived quality is too low for them to be considered anything but paycheck films. Ben Affleck can’t seem to leave the series fast enough, and the production of many of the spinoff films have been famously troubled. There are flashes of brilliance, including Ezra Miller’s casting as The Flash and the promise of a second Patty Jenkins-directed Wonder Woman film, but the rest of the franchise will continue to shuffle along, chasing big opening weekends but not much else.
Justice League is bound to make everyone involved a whole lot of money, which is going to be more than enough reason for the series to exist in a sort of dismal half-life. These characters, and their fans, deserve a whole lot better.