November 18, 2017

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “Justice League” Falters, “Wonder” Surges, “The Star” Dim


JUSTICE LEAGUE (RatPac/DC/Warners) was supposed to be the jewel in the DC crown, the Avengers that would push its megafranchise to the next box office level.  That’s what justified spending a reported $450M on production (and then more production) and marketing, making it one of the most expensive movies in history.  But tonight it’s all going wrong.  According to preliminary numbers at Deadline, opening day was $38.4M (including $13M from Thursday night), neck-and-neck with Wonder Woman‘s $38.2M as the lowest start of the DC Universe… but Wonder Woman had a lower Thursday night number ($11M), putting it ahead Friday-to-Friday, and also benefited from through-the-roof word of mouth, which is massively unlikely for Justice League.  Giving Justice League the benefit of the doubt with a 2.5x weekend multiple (not as high as Wonder Woman‘s 2.7, but much better than Suicide Squad‘s 2.06x and Batman v Superman‘s 2.03x), a $96M weekend is ahead, the lowest of the DC titles.  The good news is that the long Thanksgiving holiday is coming up, and there’s no blockbuster competition around until The Last Jedi in 4 weeks.  Still, Justice League may not reach $250M in the US, and that means it will likely have to double its domestic total overseas to show any meaningful profit.

On a dollar-for-dollar basis, this weekend’s better bet is turning out to be WONDER (Participant/Walden/Lionsgate), which is overperforming with $9.4M on Friday.  Wonder is both a family movie and a crowdpleaser, which should give it a strong weekend multiple, putting the weekend at $27M.  That’s a great start for a film made and marketed for perhaps $75M, especially if it can travel overseas.  It will face holiday competition from the animated Coco and Ferdinand, but should be able to sustain a lengthy run.

Thinking of animation, the Christian cartoon THE STAR (Affirm/Sony) has a tough road ahead with $2.7M on Friday for a likely $8M weekend, and with Coco just a few days away.

The arrival of Justice League did dent THOR: RAGNAROK (Marvel/Disney), which took a heavy 69% Friday-to-Friday hit to $5.9M, which will put its weekend at $21M unless bad word of mouth for Justice League helps it out as the weekend goes on.  That would be a 68% drop, somewhat worse than the parallel weekends for Doctor Strange (59%) and Thor: The Dark World (61%).  It puts Ragnarok on track for about $310M in the US, better than both of those comps, but a bit off from where it seemed likely to reach last week.

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (20th) didn’t have the 2d Friday hold that a film aimed at older audiences would hope to see, down 63% to $4M.  That should give it a $14M weekend, on its way to $80M in the US, a fair result for a moderately-priced film.

DADDY’S HOME 2 (Paramount) fell 64% from last Friday to $3.9M, for a $14M weekend.  As expected, the spread between Home 2 and its predecessor got much wider during the week, since the first picture opened on Christmas Day and had the entire holiday week ahead of it.  The sequel should get to $75M in the US, which would be down 50% from the first.  Home 2 wasn’t cheap, and it will require overseas help to break even.  A third installment seems unlikely.

A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS (H Brothers/STX) is holding much better, down 43% on its 3rd Friday to $2.3M, for a $8M weekend.  Still, it’s only on pace for $70M in the US, which is a big drop from the first Bad Moms and its $113.3M.  Its advantage over Daddy’s Home 2 is that it was a much more economical production ($30M vs $70M, pre-marketing), so it should end up in a more secure position.

LADY BIRD (A24) expanded very well to 238 theatres with what should be a weekend per-theatre average of $10K.  That’s almost exactly what Birdman averaged at 231 theatres.

3 BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (Fox Searchlight) widened to 53 theatres for a weekend average of $17K, a fair but not outstanding result.  (Birdman averaged $28K at 50.)  It will hope to get some December fuel from critics’ awards, which will start being announced after Thanksgiving.

ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ (Columbia/Sony) isn’t off to a great start at only 4 NY/LA theatres, heading for a weekend per-theatre average that may not hit $15K.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."