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Weekend Box Office: Justice League Opens On Top, But Far From Heroic, Wonder Delights

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By Chris Kavan - 11/19/17 at 05:47 PM CT

Despite the good will that Wonder Woman brought to the rather downbeat DCU, audiences didn't seem eager to reward the franchise. While Justice League easily took the top spot at the box office, it wasn't the knockout blow the franchise needed. Meanwhile, Wonder was a great counter-programming option and opened well above expectations while the animated The Star failed to crack the top five. It was also a good weekend for limited release films, a few which will be going wide soon. It was an up weekend compared to last year, however, and we'll have to see if that last two holidays will hold enough big hits for Hollywood to celebrate.


The DCU has certainly has its ups and downs, but Justice League may be the most worrying film in its short lifespan. Opening to just $96 million, the first place position is tempered by the face the film opened lower than any previous DCU film, including this year's Wonder Woman. Despite the face this film has the whole gang together for the first time, it failed to ignite audiences. It did earn a decent "B+" Cinemascore (certainly better than the critics reaction, where it sits at a meager 39% on Rotten Tomatoes). It was more male (58%) and older (69% over 25), and it suggests at least those who went were happy enough. Still, if the film follows a similar patter as past DCU films, it may struggle to reach $200 million domestic, which would mean Justice League would wind up with less money than all three Marvel films, but also It, Logan and Fate of the Furious. It did do a bit better overseas, where it brought in $185.5 million from 69 markets, including $51.7 million (the second-best opening for Warner Bros. behind Batman v. Superman). That did beat the opening for The Avengers... but that film also only opened in 39 markets total. The long-term prospects for Justice League are pretty murky - it really depends on how it holds up against Pixar's Coco and, of course, Star Wars in December. It's going to be a rocky road in any case, and those hoping that Justice League was going to save the DCU now just better hope future films won't be put in jeopardy.


Wonder and The Star were both positioned as a secondary option against Justice League, but while the animated film withered on the vine, Wonder scored a major victory. Opening above Thor: Ragnarok, Wonder brought in just over $27 million in its initial opening, The film impressed critics (84% on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences (earned a rare "A+" Cinemascore). It's no wonder here the audience was mostly female (68%) and older (66% over 25). The $20 million film looks to play well in to the holiday season, and could well wind up with over $100 million (and likely more) if it can turn that great opening into great word-of-mouth and increased business. One thing is for certain, the feel-good story appeals across all age group and genders and could be a great family film alongside Coco for the next month.


The big opening for Wonder meant that other superhero movie had to settle for third, dipping nearly 62% in the process. That is the biggest third-weekend drop out of any Marvel film to date, but Ragnarok needn't worry. With Justice League obviously taking a big bite out of its audience, Thor: Ragnarok still added another $21.78 million to its total, which landed just shy of $250 million with a new $247.38 million total. The film also cracked the top 10 in worldwide films for 2017 with $490.7 million international for a $738.1 total. It is still tracking ahead of both Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (by 11%) and Doctor Strange (by 17%). It will top $250 million in the next few days, with a domestic total likely to be just under the $300 million mark. With its current international numbers, it will also likely top Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 to become the biggest MCU film that doesn't happen to feature Tony Stark.


The comedic sequel took a 50% hit in its second weekend out, adding $14.8 million to its total, which now stands at $50.57 million. That total would look a lot better if the film didn't have a kind-of-high (especially for a comedy) $69 million budget. Even if it manages to hit that mark, it will need some decent overseas help in order to manage to land in the black. Still, with a lack of comedy films out right now, Daddy's Home 2 can at least count on humor-starved audiences to support it for at least a few more weeks.


Also topping the $50 million mark over the weekend was the star-studded Murder on the Orient Express. Kenneth Branagh's murder mystery added another $13.8 million to its total, which wound up at $51.72 million. The film dipped about 52% but considering its smaller budget of $55 million, and an impressive overseas total thus far ($96.5 million), this stands a better chance than Daddy's Home 2 of earning a profit in the long run. With Wonder managing to open stronger than expected, Orient Express will cross the $75 million mark, but that is the last major milestone as $100 looks out of reach, though it could hit $90 million in the long run.

Outside the top five: The Star, an animated tale following a group of animals during the Nativity, fell outside the top five in sixth place with $10 million even. Families were more interested in Wonder, but since The Star carried a relatively minor budget of just $20 million, it will most likely turn a profit. Coco will take another big chunk out of its audience next week and I suspect this one is not long for the box office.

Two films are about to go from limited to wide release - first up is Lady Bird, with added 201 theaters to its count (238 total now) and jumped 110.9%, rising from 10th to 8th place and adding $2.5 million to its $4.7 million total. Lady Bird will expand nationwide going into the Thanksgiving holiday and looks to continue to score with audience. Meanwhile, the new Denzel Washington vehicle, Roman J. Israel, Esq. opened in four theaters with $65,000 for a decent $16,250 per-theater average. It hasn't gotten nearly the great response as Lady Bird (or Three Billboards - see below), but we'll see if general audiences give it a better chance when it expands next week as well.

Speaking of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, the much-praised drama jumped from four to 53 theaters, jumping 246.1% in the process and also cracked the top 10 with $1.1 million (9th place) and new $1.5 million total. The film is also set to expand next week as it makes its way towards a nationwide opening in early December.

Next week over the long Thanksgiving holiday, Coco (which officially became the highest-grossing American film in Mexico) looks to conquer family audiences, with both Lady Bird and Roman J. Israel, Esq expanding. The big story, however, will be what Coco does to the under-performing Justice League.


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