How do you fuck up a Justice League movie?! How the hell have Warner Bros. and DC blown so much goodwill and second chances that they wasted even the patience of the most ardent fans, four movies into their so-called expanded universe? If I didn’t know better, I would assume that DC had fallen victim to some kind of pyramid scheme, wherein they put all their money into the biggest flop possible and somehow profit will happen. Even Bialystock and Bloom would tell them to rethink their plans.
It’s strange for me to even call a $96m opening weekend a flop, yet here we are in the age of Too Big To Fail film-making. Justice League still soared past the competition and is doing well with audiences - a B+ Cinemascore ranking - but still, when you’re one of the biggest, most expensive films of the year and you can’t get past $100m on the domestic opening weekend, there is something seriously wrong going on. Where it goes in the coming weeks, I can’t say for sure. Perhaps it’ll have some longevity over the Xmas season, although competition is about to get very tough. The problem with this particular film is that the cost of it continues to raise eyebrows. Officially, the budget is listed at $300m, which easily makes it one of the most expensive films ever made, joint-second with Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and surpassed only by On Stranger Tides, which cost a staggering $378.5m. Creative accounting is as much a part of Hollywood as botox and hating women, but the work on this film must be Pulitzer Prize level. I struggle to believe it ‘only’ cost $300m: We’re talking two rounds of reshoots, including a new director for one batch, keeping the cast and crew around for all that, plus a whole new round of editing, colour grading to make the film brighter, everything going on with Henry Cavill’s moustache, and that doesn’t even take into consideration how expensive the marketing budget must have been. Make no mistake, this is a film that needs to break $1bn worldwide, something that never pulled off. They really should have kept Cavill’s facial hair.
In second place, the drama Wonder, based on the popular kids’ novel by R.J. Palacio, soared past expectations and grossed $27m. Strong reviews, great word of mouth, the popularity of the book and an enthusiastic majority female audience gave it one hell of a debut. Not bad for a film many thought would stumble given its competition.
Thor: Ragnarok is holding on in number 3 with a still impressive $21.7m. Its worldwide box office reached $738m this weekend, making it the 9th biggest film of the year and knocking It down to 10th. Yeah, you teach that fucking clown some respect.
Another new debut, The Star, landed at number 5 with $10m. If you haven’t heard of it until now, don’t worry because I hadn’t either. Apparently it’s a faith based animated film by Sony that centres on the birth of Jesus from the point of view of the animals in the stable. They must have cut that part out of the Bible, although I have to hand it to them for garnering a cast that includes Oprah, Keegan Michael Key, Christopher Plummer (not replacing anyone), Kelly Clarkson and Mariah Carey. It also only cost $20m to make so go get your good Christian profits.
The big players of the week on the indie circuit remain Lady Bird, whose gross increased a staggering 110% this week, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which made $1.115m from only 53 theatres. The hunger for serious adult fare is always strong around the Winter season, and reports of Lady Bird having sold out screenings all week will warm the hearts of A24. Better get that ‘Greta Gerwig for Best Director’ campaign going!
Next week sees the release of the latest Pixar film, Coco, as well as Gary Oldman’s Oscar victory lap Darkest Hour.
You can check out the rest of the weekend box office here.
What films did you watch this weekend? How much do you think Justice League actually cost? Where does Wonder rank in the list of 2017 films with ‘Wonder’ in the title? Do you prefer Cavill with or without the facial hair, and please present evidence explaining your choice. Would you have preferred the Bible if it had featured more wacky singing animals? Answers in the comments.