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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by Waiting For Supe-ot Klady

Friday Estimates 2017-11-18 at 8.33.42 AM

(Did anyone see the earlier version of this post before it disappeared?)

Of 54 movies that have had a Friday opening of $38 million or more, only 4 failed to crack $100 million for the 3-day… 2 Fast/Furious films (#6 & #8), a Potter (Azkaban), and the most recent Godzilla.

So why are outlets projecting that Justice League will come up short of $100 million?

My guess? Because they were told to by Warner Bros.

It is possible that Justice League will, indeed, come up short for the weekend. Telling writers that it will be under that wire softens the blow if it happens. But more so, if the movie does pass $100 million, the idea has been in place that $100 million is a positive mark for the film… a surprise from Friday to Sunday morning. Writers will spin themselves.

Of course, underlying this is the fact that Justice League is a disaster for Warner Bros. opening to just over $100 million, as opposed to $130 million-plus. A Wonder Woman opening for the movie where the whole thing is meant to come together is a failure.

And WB has my sympathy as I watched their marketers struggle for months with signalling to audiences that Superman would be in the movie while trying not to tell audiences openly that Superman would be in the movie. It is a reminder, long before marketing, that Zack Snyder is an arrogant fool as a producer and that whoever greenlit the idea of killing Superman and then pretending he wasn’t in Justice League while DC was still struggling to find its commercial footing should probably be fired.

Regardless, the manipulation of box-office writers is a process of managing expectations for a group that isn’t all that interested in thinking for themselves. Problem isthat these ideas get repeated to the public ad nauseum with almost no detail. And with weekend box office, who really cares? Right?

But the problem is bigger than box office. Studios forget that every time they manipulate the truth for a small gain in marketing, they are feeding a monster that will come back to haunt them later. Box office has become a game. But so have reviews. Every time a quote whore gets quoted, studios are devaluing criticism and legitimizing the simplistic aggregation of Rotten Tomatoes. Don’t misunderstand me… nothing wrong with Rotten Tomatoes. It was a great idea and it offers a service that can be used in a positive way. But it can also be abused. And lately, studios have felt threatened by that RT score. That leads to efforts to manipulate the RT score… which is where madness lies.

Harmless lies or harmless thoughtlessness is not harmless.

Being moorless when things are bad gives you room to maneuver. Being moorless when things are good makes your success seem smaller than it is. Either way, choosing to work the fringes of truth does not actually empower studios. It is the corn syrup of Hollywood.

Wonder is the biggest opener for Lionsgate, aside from the Saban-controlled Power Rangers output deal, since Madea Boo! in October 2016. And I expect it will be leggier than anyone imagined because of a dearth of product aimed at female audiences and pre-college-age kids.

Expansions for Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri went well.

No idea what Sony was thinking with the four-screen run of Roman Israel, Esq… but it didn’t work. It worked for Fences last year… but Fences is a whole different kettle of fish.

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24 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Waiting For Supe-ot Klady”

  1. Bender says:


  2. Cg says:

    I followed the link from Facebook. Same information, weird formatting.

    That JL number is…not great, right?

  3. David Poland says:

    Thanks, Bender. We are trying to figure out what happened. Will be re-writing the box office analysis that I was almost done with when it went sideways.

    Cg, it’s not great. Probably not as bad as being “reported” right now.

  4. Geoff says:

    Yes CG, it is a weak number overall – it’s clear that Warners was looking to move on from Snyder and get on to better (and cheaper) auteur-driven stand-alones which I’m guessing is why they didn’t just delay the release a few months.

    Snyder and Affleck were already out the door but so is Whedon now – forget about Batgirl happening anytime soon, the fan-girls already hate him for what he did to Black Widow and skanking up the Amazon’s apparently.

    The rest of the crew should be fine though – Wonder Woman 2, Shazam, and of course Aquaman are still happening and I would expect them to be good.

    I’m actually seeing it later today, expecting a quick, fun time……which WOULD be a first for a film directed by Zack Snyder.

    JS, you are welcome to gloat. 😉

  5. EtGuild2 says:

    Hard to believe this is Julia Roberts’ biggest opening in a lead role in 17 years.

  6. palmtree says:

    Mojo is now saying Justice won’t get to a $100m opening. I’d say that’s bad, especially given the typical legs DC gets.

  7. Sideshow Bill says:

    I was looking forward to Whedon’s BATGIRL but maybe now I’ll get my dream pairing of Karyn Kusama and Gail Simone.

    Make it so, WB.

  8. Geoff says:

    No shit Etguild, since Erin Brockovich??

    I would SORT of count Oceans 12 actually since she pretty much takes over the last fourth of the movie and at the time of release, she was as sure a thing at the box office as Clooney or Damon.

  9. Geoff says:

    I’m just purely speculating Sideshow – for all I know, WB might end up being as slavishly loyal to Whedon as they have been to the Wachowskis or Snyder.

    But I would bet against it – they just don’t need the headache that comes with a Whedon-helmed Batgirl and he’s going to end up being heavily scrutinized just for how tight he makes her costume.

  10. Geoff says:

    “It is a reminder, long before marketing, that Zack Snyder is an arrogant fool as a producer and that whoever greenlit the idea of killing Superman and then pretending he wasn’t in Justice League while DC was still struggling to find its commercial footing should probably be fired.”

    You know Dave I do often find you can be way too harsh on guys like Snyder but I think you’re probably spot-on with that observation: when you’re trying to kick-start a “universe” it’s probably not the wisest idea to kill off one of your marquee characters so you “allude” to his return in the first real team-up. That makes about as much sense directing a Star Trek sequel featuring Khan as the villain and hiding that within all marketing…..

  11. PTA Fluffer says:

    >as much sense directing a Star Trek sequel featuring Khan as the villain and hiding that

    Not to mention casting a pasty Englishman in the part.

  12. Nick says:

    All the trailer needed was a 2 sec capper with supes blasting off. That’s all they needed.

  13. Alex says:

    All the time people complain that trailers show too much, including BVS when they showed Doomsday. So WB decided not to show the return of Superman and only hint at it in the trailers. And now people complain about that.

    JL is a mediocre movie. A couple of hundred million at the worldwide boxoffice is all it deserves. If you want more, put more effort into your work and above all start with a good story worth telling.

  14. Nick says:

    Right Alex. Just like blade runner 2049….

    Oh wait.

  15. JS Partisan says:

    Geoff, it will make 100m… if the word gets out, that it’s fun. Warners underselling it, is probably ass covering. Here’s the thing, and I am going to harp on this until it becomes fucking reality. LOTS OF HARPING!

    JUSTICE LEAGUE… IS THE START OF THE DCEU. EVERYTHING ELSE, HAS BEEN PREAMBLE! We finally have SUPERMAN, we have a great DIANA, and we have a solid ass Bruce. Find some younger actor, or someone in their 20s, to be Terry McGuiness, and you have the makings of a solid franchise going into the next decade. That’s where things have to go. Don’t worry about Snyder. Don’t worry about Joss. YOU HAVE FUCKING GEOFF FUCKING JOHNS RUNNING YOUR SHIT! Geoff, will sort it fucking out.

    But yeah, Snyder should have never been given SUPERMAN. He should have never been given any DC SUPERHERO. Why? Ayn Rand loving brothers, cannot fucking grasp this shit. Justice League, will be fine. Like I stated 12 fucking years ago about BATMAN BEGINS… people will watch it on cable, or streaming. It will find an audience. Warners just has to play the long game, and not the Marvel one.

    JL, is some solid comic book movie making. Thanks to… dare I thank him… Joss fucking Whedon. If you don’t like JL… well… MORE FOR ME! I WIN AGAIN! BARRRGH!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Hcat says:

    I would think Roberts Best Supporting Actress campaign starts today. Its a crowded category so I don’t expect it to happen but any mention of it in Entertainment Today or People will keep the films title in front of its target audience for the duration of the films run. The mothers taking their kids to see Wonder were the perfect age to be massive Julia Roberts fans at some point, and probably can’t remember when they stopped watching her new movies in the first place.

    So JL stumbles, whats the over/under on Coco next week? Does it top Cars 3s opening?

    Given the down box office Disney’s demand of 65% of the gate for Star Wars seems beyond dickish and almost predatory towards the theaters.

  17. Alex says:

    @ Nick:

    This has nothing to do with Blade Runner.

    Sometimes good movies don’t find a big enough audience. Sometimes bad movies reach more people than they deserve and leave many people disappointed. More often than not the next movies in the franchise will pay the price for the disappointments or profit from the good will. JL probably is a accumulation of all 4 previous movies. In quality and boxoffice results.

  18. EtGuild2 says:

    “Wonder is the biggest opener for Lionsgate, aside from the Saban-controlled Power Rangers output deal, since Madea Boo! in October 2016”

    You forgot JOHN WICK 2. That aside, nice writeup.

    @Geoff, Julia’s biggest opening since AMERICA’S SWEETHEARTS in 2001, though it may be her 2nd biggest in a lead behind RUNAWAY BRIDE if it pops (the one’s I’m not counting are Ocean’s 11/12 and Valentine’s Day). Keep in mind though that she existed as a star in the pre-openings era, and regardless inflation is ignored.

    Still…..16/17 years. That’s amazing. Roberts was the last true “movie star” to hold the title of “top grossing actress ever” before she was usurped by Cameron Diaz by way of “Shrek 3” in 2007, and has since been passed by numerous actresses with ongoing franchise vehicles (including ScarJo, Emma Watson and somewhat bizarrely Cate Blanchett with her pop-ins in LOTR/HOBBIT, THOR and HWTYD).

    Johansson will contend for top grossing actor or actress within the next few years. Such is the brave new world of cinema.

  19. Geoff says:

    Ok Et, I wasn’t mocking you I just wasn’t sure – amazing how long it’s been and yeah, she had an damn impressive run from 1990 until about 2003 I think when Mona Lisa Smile under-performed.

    Yeah those “top grossing blank blank ever” stats are always kind of misleading aren’t they?? 🙂 I mean short of Harrison Ford and a few others, they’re mostly for actors who are often supporting players in big franchises like Samuel L. Jackson or Liam Neeson. And that’s the thing that always diminishes the stats of movie stars like Julia or Denzel….they RARELY do franchises.

  20. Geoff says:

    Kind of surprised to hear you praising Justice League JS but just as well: I saw it earlier today with my oldest daughter and I found it to be perfectly breezy blast, EASILY the most enjoyable Zack Snyder film has ever directed.

    And JS, I would say that Wonder Woman was the REAL start of the DCU and that Justice League will end up being looked upon as a pallet cleanser or a speed bump towards improvement – I saw the lesson from this year for Warners/DC is do what they do best: give GOOD auteur filmmakers the chance to run with properties that they fit best with for mainly STAND-ALONE movies moving forward. The team-up shit is just more difficult to pull off and carries more baggage – if you want to insert Superman into a supporting role for Shazam, cool! Have The Flash go out for a night out on the town with Cyborg but keep the shit SIMPLE and FOCUSED bottom line! 😉

    Yeah and Justice League is not getting $100 million this weekend – the competition was tougher than expected with Wonder breaking out and the headwinds were just WAY too strong for this film to get the marketing traction it needed. That fucking Rotten Tomatoes stunt on Thursday was an embarrassment for every one involved and if Warner Bros signed on off on it (which I would not think they would), then I have to think the marketing/PR department at Warners didn’t – announce a SCORE (ONLY A SCORE) the day the movie opens but don’t post any reviews linked in the build-up to that score announcement so if it’s a negative score, that’s ALL that a casual film-goer sees the first day the film hits theaters! 😛 After literally 18 months of set visits and trips to London for bloggers and Comic Con pony shows and great trailers and gorgeous posters and junket screenings designed to push out good early Twitter reactions….Rotten Tomatoes literally drops a bomb on your marketing/PR plan at the very end damn!

    Maybe the film will have a few strong weeks and leg it out to $300 million domestic, maybe it’ll tank who knows? Just time to to move on to shit that works more easily and has more upside – Wonder Woman wasn’t perfect but that movie blew the fucking doors off this year, easily MY personal favorite comic book film since Batman Begins. Warners uses that a launching point, I’m cool with that.

  21. Heather says:

    Completely agree about the how not having superman in the marketing hurt them In a smaller way, the campaign of “unite” ad “unite the league” doesn’t really work when the characters haven’t debuted yet. Marvel built towards avengers..WB wanted to use Justice League as a launch pad for these somewhat unknown characters. Both valid strategies but the marketing has to match that,

  22. JS Partisan says:

    Geoff, the team up stuff isn’t that hard… if you build to it. Marvel Studios, TOOK FOUR FUCKING YEARS to build to Avengers, and it wasn’t really clear til fucking Iron Man 2 came out. We were even going to get the Avengers, because people kept doubting it for those two years. DC/Warners, just rushed into this shit, and it shows.

    They still got Wonder Woman out of it, but how can you not want to see these characters hang out again? JL, builds them pretty well, and they can use their own films to expand them. Sure. Flash and Cyborg have to hang out together, but they should… RACIAL INTERACTIONS FOR THE WIN!

    The thing of it is… these characters work together, and that’s what DC should build off of…

  23. David Poland says:

    “the competition was tougher than expected”


  24. David Poland says:

    Excellent point, Heather.

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