Weekend Box Office: ‘League’ Stumbles While ‘Wonder’ Soars

Despite all the hype in the world thrown behind it, Warner’s superhero epic Justice League got off to an underwhelming start at the North America box office this weekend. The Lionsgate family drama Wonder over performed in second place while Sony’s animated The Star was dim in sixth place. The top ten was up a healthy 33% over both last week and last year at this time when Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them arrived with $74 million.

An onscreen ensemble of DC Comics’ best and brightest is something comic book fans have waited a long time for. Their pent-up anticipation alone should have translated into a huge, possibly record, opening for the new Zack Snyder/Joss Whedon action epic Justice League. Instead, the opposite happened: the film had the lowest domestic opening to date for Warner’s DC Extended Universe franchise.

The $96 million collected from 4,051 theaters was $37 million lower than Suicide Squad and a whopping $70 million lower than Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and that was with the benefit of monopolizing IMAX, 3D and other large-format screen venues.

The box office breakdown for Justice League is $13 million from Thursday night previews, $25.8 million on Friday, $33 million on Saturday and an estimated $24.1 million for Sunday. This would be a fantastic start for practically any film, but not one that cost a reported $300 million to make and another $150 million to market worldwide. If those reports are accurate, then the movie will have to clear close to $900 million to break even. A small portion of that goal was taken care thanks to the $185 million taken in from international markets this weekend.

As was the case with Man of Steel, Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad, critics did not embrace Justice League. The film scored a 40% approval on Rotten Tomatoes and a 46/100 from Metacritic. That critical consensus on League is higher than last year’s Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad, but that’s not saying much. It is also a major step down from the one DCEU film so far that is genuinely good: Wonder Woman. As for those devout DC fans, they were a little kinder with their judgment. They gave the movie a “B+” on CinemaScore, which is higher than BvS, the same grade as Suicide Squad -seriously? – but lower than the “A” given to Wonder Woman.

In second place with a great $27 million from 3,096 theaters was the Lionsgate release, Wonder. Directed by Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) and starring Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, Wonder was expected to open just below $10 million. But solid reviews from critics – 83% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 67/100 on Metacritic- and a glowing “A+” from ticket buyers on CinemaScore helped propel the $20 million production far past that.

The arrival of Aquaman and The Flash knocked Thor: Ragnarok down a couple of pegs to third place. The God of Thunder slipped 62% in its third weekend on 4,080 screens to command a still mighty $21.8 million. Ragnarok’s domestic total now stands at a great $247.3 million with the $300 million milestone still possible. Internationally, the Disney/Marvel blockbuster has cleared $490.7 million to date and should cross the half billion-dollar mark shortly.

Paramount’s comedy Daddy’s Home 2 landed in fourth with $14.8 million in its second session. Down 50%, the comedy sequel has brought in $50.5 million to date.

Rounding out the top five was Fox’s remake of Murder on the Orient Express with an estimated $13.8 million from 3,354 theaters. Off 52%, the Kenneth Branagh mystery has scored $52 million so far domestically and an additional $96.5 million overseas.

  1.  The Star (Sony) $10 million
  2.  A Bad Moms’ Christmas (STX) $6.9 million (-40%); $51 million
  3.  Lady Bird (A24) $2.5 million; $4.7 million
  4.  Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (FoxS) $1.1 million; $1.5 million
  5.  Jigsaw (Lionsgate) $1 million; (-69%); $36.4 million

For Thanksgiving week, only one new film will arrive nationwide: Disney/Pixar’s acclaimed animated feature Coco. The movie has been a runaway hit in Mexico, where it opened three weeks ago and has brought in close to $50 million so far. Will Coco have what it takes to knock Justice League off the top spot? Let’s hope so.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


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