NEW YORK • Justice League was supposed to be in a league of its own at the box office, with its cast of superheroes: Wonder Woman, Batman, Cyborg, Flash, Superman and Aquaman.
Instead, the movie collected a disappointing US$96 million (S$130 million) at North American theatres over the weekend. The sum was 42 per cent less than what franchise predecessor, Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, earned over its first three days in March last year.
It was enough to top the weekend box office, but analysts had expected Justice League to take in at least US$110 million. The film cost at least US$400 million to make and market worldwide.
Overseas, it collected an additional US$185.5 million, with strong results in South Korea and Brazil.
The underwhelming domestic turnout raises questions about the ability of Warner to exploit its DC Comics characters on the big screen. Four of the studio's last five superhero movies have been considered letdowns. Wonder Woman is the lone exception.
Justice League received mixed-to-negative reviews. Rotten Tomatoes, the review aggregation site, delayed posting a score as part of a new video initiative. That move was interpreted as an effort to hide a "rotten" score, since Warner owns 25 per cent of Rotten Tomatoes.
The mood was lighter at Lionsgate where executives were doing cartwheels over the response to Wonder, a heartstring-pulling drama about a boy with facial birth defects (Jacob Tremblay), his parents (Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson) and his cruel schoolmates.
Wonder collected US$27.1 million - triple what analysts had expected. The film, which received strong reviews, cost about US$20 million to make.
Another family movie, The Star, an animated telling of the Nativity story, also arrived to sturdy ticket sales over the weekend. The film, which cost Sony about US$20 million to make, generated an estimated US$10 million, a bit more than what analysts had forecast.
Justice League could make up lost ground over the Thanksgiving holiday. Only two movies are scheduled to arrive in wide release, both starting tomorrow: Pixar's fantasy-mystery Coco and the Denzel Washington thriller-drama Roman J. Israel, Esq.