“Justice League” Tumbles While “Wonder” Impresses


November 17-19, 2017

(estimates from BoxOfficeMojo.com)


Justice League $96.0 million
Wonder  $27.0 million
Thor: Ragnarok  $21.7 million
Daddy's Home 2  $14.8 million
Murder on the Orient Express  $13.8 million

It was just over 20 years ago when The Lost World: Jurassic Park stunned everyone by opening with $90 million over four days. But that was then and this is now. Now a major tentpole sequel opening with $96 million domestically is considered a failure. When it comes to money, that seems a little absurd. But when it comes to the DC Extended Universe, a major studio like Warner Bros. and an industry unto itself like comic book movies, it's a key indicator that we've reached a tipping point.

Of the six live-action comic book movies that debuted this year, Justice League opened the lowest, save for Logan, which premiered with $88 million. There were a lot of factors that contributed to this perfect storm: a troubled production, the Rotten Tomatoes kerfuffle, the diminishing returns presaged by both Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, and the fact that there's a great, super-entertaining superhero movie that's only been out for three weeks (Thor: Ragnarok). Justice League is definitely going to be the lowest-grossing DCEU movie and might end up making less than The LEGO Batman Movie. This also presages that we might be hitting our comic book movie threshold. Next year has plenty on the docket and while almost every single franchise has gotten bigger and bigger, there's a real possibility some of them take an L next year. We'll see.

Wonder did surprisingly big business. In second place, the family tear-jerker debuted with a surprisingly huge $27 million. Fandango reported a rather large number of group sales, and it's likely to perform well through the holidays, even as it faces competition for those family dollars from Pixar's Coco next week.

Thor: Ragnarok fell a bit more than I expected, but given the bad reviews for Justice League, it could still end up crossing $300 million when it's all said and done, which should be $100 million more than that DC team-up. It's clear which comic book publisher is the champ this year. Daddy's Home 2 and Murder on the Orient Express both fell more than 50 percent, though they're likely to still do well for themselves even if $100 million is out of reach.

Outside the top 5:

  • This Weekend's Indie Champ: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri reigned once again. Expanding to 53 screens, it jumped into the top 10, averaging $21,038. This is one you can believe the hype on. It's that good.
  • But even more astonishing was Lady Bird. It jumped to 238 screen and managed a stunning $2.5 million. It's the fall's runaway indie hit.
  • Animated flick The Star couldn't win over kids or the faith-based crowd. The film only managed $10 million, good for sixth place. Still, it only cost $20 million, which is quite low for an animated movie.

Next week:

The holidays are upon us, but there's really only one new movie. Disney-Pixar's Coco is another winner. While it won't have as big a debut as an Inside Out or a Finding Dory, I think $90 million from Wednesday to Sunday is entirely doable. Roman J. Israel, Esq. expands to wide release, but given its muted reception thus far, I think it will open below $10 million.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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