Will a Poor Opening Weekend for ‘Justice League’ Finally Destroy the DCEU?

Matthew Loffhagen
Justice League Wonder Woman and Batman
(Photo: Justice League Wonder Woman and Batman)

It’s not looking good for the DCEU. Following a slew of critically panned movies (and one brilliant Wonder Woman film that was almost certainly an accident), the studio is facing the horrors of seeing Justice League severely underperform.

The movie only managed $94 million in its opening weekend domestically, with a foreign taking of $185 million. In total that’s just $279 million – an impressive chunk of change, were it not for the fact that the movie was ridiculously expensive to make.

All in, Justice League cost around $300 million to produce, thanks to lengthy and extensive reshoots – not to mention the challenge of changing directors mid-way through the filming process.

That’s not the only cost associated with the film, though – have you noticed the incredibly boisterous advertising campaign? DC has been hyping this movie for well over a year, with trailers and teasers pouring out for a very, very long time. That all costs money, and will easily have cost at least another $300 million on top of the movie’s production costs.

That’s $600(ish) million for a movie that didn’t even make $300 million on its opening weekend, and which has released just four weeks before Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

The Flash in DC's Justice League
Source: Warner Bros

Considering that Batman v Superman, the predecessor to this movie, experienced a horrendous drop-off in ticket sales after its first week, there’s a good chance that the big bulk of Warner Bros’ proceeds from this movie have already been accounted for.

So is this the end? Will Warner Bros finally pull the plug on the constantly troubled endeavor that is the DCEU?

Probably not. After all, a lot of money has been poured into this movie universe, in the hopes of catching up to Marvel, and there’s a good chance that things will keep running on future movies in this universe thanks to the Sunk Cost Fallacy.

Essentially, Warner Bros has spent so much money on this movie universe that the studio will likely feel that rebooting everything will be more hassle than it’s worth. The studio will want to try and get as much from their investment as possible, even if it means moving forward with a cinematic universe that, let’s face it, doesn’t appeal to the majority of audiences.

(This isn’t to say that it doesn’t have fans – simply that the majority of moviegoers don’t care for the aesthetic.)

The DCEU is likely to continue, but don’t be surprised if it looks a little different in future.

No doubt Warner Bros believes that the best way to actually get something from their investment in this series is to keep the brand recognition that exists, while simultaneously making future movies more like Wonder Woman.

Source: Warner Bros

There’s a good chance that, if it’s fun and lighthearted, Aquaman might win back some moviegoers – after all, everyone loves Jason Momoa.

Similarly, we’ve got Shazam! to look forward to, which by accounts should look a lot more like a Superman film than Man of Steel or Batman v Superman ever did, with unironic innocence at the core of the story (at least, that’s what we’ve been promised).

The DCEU isn’t going to go away just yet, but it’s going to be interesting to see the gears shift within Warner Bros as the studio attempts yet another course correction.

Fingers crossed it works out – it’d be really great to get more DC comic book movies that audiences can be unequivocally positive about.