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David Poland

By David Poland

Weekend Estimates by Justice Served Soft Klady

Weekend Estimates 2017-11-19 10AM

The pathetic opening for Justice League is as simple as, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on you. Fool me three times? No, thanks.”

Warner Bros.’ effort to make the great fortunes that comic book movies could offer with the DC brand has been a disaster with intermittent bouts of mastery. Donner, Burton and Nolan are the masters. The studio learned the lesson that a strong, clear voice was important in building a solid franchise run. Richard Lester split Superman II with Donner and they all got lucky…. but the Donner vision would never have delivered a disaster like Superman III. Schumacher took Burton’s vision too far and crashed the franchise. Nolan came in to WB and took Bryan Singer’s X-Men model and topped it.

Then Jeff Robinov, who had overcommitted to Zack Snyder for three straight money-losing films before handing him the keys to the franchise the studio was counting on becoming the foundation of the entire studio as Harry Potter ended. The instinct to hand the keys to a single artist with a clear vision was the right one. But they picked the wrong artist.

Somehow, they were smart enough to stop making Bryan Singer Superman movies after one. And Green Lantern got the single shot. But Snyder got three.

And now, it’s over.

Warner Bros probably won’t lose money on Justice League. But they will come close.

They probably were hoping that they could convert inside of one movie from Snyder to Whedon with the same success as Donner to Lester. But instead, they got schizophrenia. And they got it so strongly that it came across in the marketing.

If I were Warners, I would put Superman and Batman on ice for two or three years and build a base. Keep the budgets tight. Build character over CG extravaganza… which leads to the next Wonder Woman. Do the Flash movie with Stephen Chbosky and Ezra Miller. If there is a good story for Cyborg, find it. Make the Batgirl movie. Try Catwoman again with a fresh take. And I guess, yeah… if you have a young, fresh take on Batman or Superman, for a price, do it.

I still want to see the The Dark Knight Returns done the way Frank Miller did it… bitter old guys. Or find the kind of director who would pair Gyllenhaal and Phoenix as Superman and Batman.

Just hire Lord & Miller and let them do whatever the hell they want inside the DC Universe. Hand Sofia Coppola or Greta Gerwig whatever character they want to make an intimate piece about being a superhero. Let’s see what the Safdie Bros can do with a villain on a $10 million budget. Let’s see Soderbergh’s $50 million Justice League.

In other words, shake it up. The characters will maintain their intrinsic value. Let DC be cool… for a minute.

DC remains the most squandered asset in all of moviedom. And Lucasfilm just tied up Rian Johnson for the next 5 years. AT&T is coming. Let it roll.

In other news, Wonder opened really nicely. Look at the Top 20 and except for third weekend of Bad Moms 2, find me a movie on more than 300 screens that women might want to see in large numbers. That would be Wonder.

Speaking of screen count… there are only eight films on 1000+ screens this weekend. Last year, on “this” weekend, 13. Overall the studio movie count hasn’t change much this year.

Disney -3 11 to 8
Fox +2 12 to 14
WB +1 16 to 17
Sony +3 19 to 22
Par -4 15 to 11
U -2 16 to 14

But release dates are in need of deep analysis. The August abandonment and the glut on too many weekends is of great interest. There are two limited releases in the Top 9 this weekend. They are two success stories of different colors. Lady Bird expanded to 238 and stayed over $10k per screen. A24 is pushing it out faster than Moonlight, and to bigger numbers as well. We’re a long way from the domestic total, but I’d like Lady Bird to get past $30 million before Oscar nominations and to crack $45 million if Greta Gerwig gets a directing nomination.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri did similar numbers to the second weekend of Lady Bird, but on more screens. Ironically, it was Searchlight that made Saoirse Ronan more marketable with Brooklyn and they now have a challenge with the brilliant 3 Billboards, which has great actors who have limited box office pull. A24 has to wait for the Saturday after Thanksgiving to start mining the benefits of Saoirse hosting Saturday Night Live. Her not being this last weekend’s host probably cost $3 million or more at the Thanksgiving weekend box office. But I have a feeling they will make up for it.

Roman J Israel, Esq did nothing to help itself with a four-screen release this weekend. 5000 or 6000 people saw the film. Meaningless sample. Paramount did this with Fences last year and did almost exactly double the gross. They didn’t need it either. But in their case, it was the weekend before Christmas and they probably would have had a hard time getting 2000+ screens they wanted with the Rogue One opening.

Roughly 500 people saw Mudbound in a theater.

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37 Responses to “Weekend Estimates by Justice Served Soft Klady”

  1. Nick says:

    Maybe Disney can buy DC now.

  2. JS Partisan says:

    Nick, you probably know, that DC did try to buy Marvel during the 90s. Why did it fall apart? Editorial differences.

    And you know what? Warners should really ask critics what the fuck they want from their films at this point. We also have to ask ourselves, when are the studios going to shank fucking Rotten Tomatoes at this point? I mean, this god damn aggregation has now gaffled a tent pole.

  3. Sideshow Bill says:

    I don’t know how to parse this opening. The DCEU put themselves in a hole and have had to dig out from it, artistically and critically. I kinda agree with what JS said the other day: this movie will have a longer shelf life because it’s more fun, and therefore JL2 can maybe be salvaged. A different creative team must be brought in.They made a mistake when they rushed things trying to play catch-up with Marvel. i think that’s the biggest thing.

    These characters and this world are too beloved and rich to fail. they just need better management. They’re getting there but the stumbles are the undeniable. I’ve liked all the movies, to a degree, aside from Suicide Squad, so maybe I’m just an easy mark. But there is hope. WB shouldn’t be hanging their heads too low today.

  4. Sideshow Bill says:

    Different topic: Lady Bird and Killing of a Sacred Deer are both playing about 30 minutes from me. I gotta get down there for a double feature ASAP. Need a break from “event” movies.

  5. Bender says:

    Bill, have you seen Florida Project yet? Its FANTASTIC. A certain Best Picture nomination.
    Scared Deer is stunning.
    My little Canadian flyover city hasn’t got Lady Bird yet.

  6. palmtree says:

    Saying it was rushed seems like the easy narrative. Wonder Woman worked, soooo was that not rushed?

    I think it comes down to stewardship. Whoever is guiding this thing better be compelling, and Zack Snyder wasn’t it. They need to find someone like a Christopher Nolan whose spin on things makes it fresh. I’d be happy if Patty Jenkins filled this role, but for god’s sake, just pick anyone who knows how to tell stories.

  7. Sideshow Bill says:

    No, Bender. FLORIDA PROJECT hasn’t played here yet. It’s on my must-see list though. THREE BILLBOARDS opens here on Tuesday. After yesterday I had it in my head that I probably wouldn’t be in a theater again until STAR WARS, partly because of holiday spending. But i really need to see these films.

    palmtree, fair point. But the ‘team-up” stuff was rushed, I think. Choosing better creative stewardship is certainly a gigantic factor, too. But it’s hard for me because as I’ve said I like Snyder and I like a lot of what he’s done with the material. That being said, a different voice and vision probably would have had more universally appreciated results. It’s best for all involved that he leaves, including him.

  8. JS Partisan says:

    Palmtree, they were literally working on much of the film last month! LAST MONTH! They basically, took everything that Snyder had done, and chopped it and altered a lot. They had to make Gal more important, they had to fix Superman, and they had to redo the ending battle. They had to pull the Snyder funk out of the freaking movie.

    Warners, did this to themselves, and they should just take it. Take it, and go from here with anything but TWO GOD DAMN FUCKING JOKER MOVIES! Unless they do that White Knight comic, because that would be cool.

  9. palmtree says:

    JS, yes, they had to do all of that last month because they started off with the wrong vision and then had to make painful course corrections to Frankenstein together a vision in post. It’s only rushed because it was broken to begin with. That was exactly my point about stewardship.

  10. Bitplaya says:

    Dave are you going to walk back what you said yesterday about how the studio was playing games by saying this wouldn’t hit $100 million? The word of mouth on this thing is poisonous.

  11. GdB says:


    I am usually with you; but a strong disagree on Gyllenhall and Phx casting and The Dark Knight Returns. The most unBatman, Batman story ever. Disagree on Burton too, the tone of each film was too cutsey/corny.

    What they need to do is give control of the Batman franchise to Bruce Timm and let him Keven Feige the fuck out of it on a creative level. Let him oversee the narrative, choose the director and have final say on casting.

    Batman the animated series is the true Batman masterpiece of the last 30yrs in a visual medium. Give the franchise to the guy who oversaw that and the creation of Harley Quinn – Bruce Timm (and get Paul Dini on the team too)

  12. Bulldog68 says:

    “Dave are you going to walk back what you said yesterday about how the studio was playing games by saying this wouldn’t hit $100 million? The word of mouth on this thing is poisonous.”

    Word of mouth from who’s mouth?

    This thing has higher audience reviews than both Suicide Squad and BvS and even Avengers Age of Ultron. So it’s gotta be the critics you speak of.

    I think opening two weeks after Thor was a mistake. Thor fell 62% this weekend, which is huge for such a well liked movie and the largest 3rd week drop for the best reviewed Thor movie, so they cannibalized each other. Another $20m this weekend for JL and the headlines wouldn’t be so brutal. I think the knives were out from the get go.

    It sucks that after WW, DC will now go into panic mode and things can become even more helter skelter. There is no good spin about this opening, save for a Thanksgiving weekend hold that is phenomenal. With Coco on the horizon taking the kiddies away, that prospect looks iffy.

    I haven’t seen it, but word of mouth isn’t “poisonous” in my neck of the words in Canada. Much to the contrary. I think people are grabbing a narrative and running with it.

    That being said, with all the names being called, why not just give JL to Patty Jenkins. She obviously delivered a kick ass movie that people liked. I’m sure the offer would have been made already if it was Patrick Jenkins, white male, who directed WW.

  13. Stella Boy says:

    Isn’t a B+ from cinemascore just considered decent, not exactly great?

  14. JS Partisan says:

    Matt Reeves, was made to make a hell of a Batman movie. Especially one, that may involve… TERRY FUCKING McGUINESS!

    BD, to be far, those kinds of drops aren’t exactly terrible, when you have a holiday weekend coming. Four days of holiday fun, and possibly the same box office for some of these films next weekend. Coco, is going to make what Coco makes, but does the Pixar of it all push it to another level? I’m not feeling it, but I am so looking forward to that damn movie.

    And… Dave, no. None of what you offer. None of it. Let Geoff Johns do what Kevin has been doing for over a decade, and build the universe via producers, who works with directors who get GEOFF’S VISION. Geoff, is a fucking genius. An absolute genius. Let him slowly build this world into something, that completely goes against what Warners covert… auteur vision.

    Why does the MSCU work for people? Cohesion. They bring back Spidey and it works. Why? COHESION! Thor, gets to have a wacky and dark adventure, but why did it get over with people? COHESION! You have to have a thread, be it noticeable or just dangling in the background, that makes people give a shit.

    Warners, has let people go willy nilly with their fucking properties, and what do they have to show for it? They have the Nolan films, that ended in the same year that people got the Avengers. They have Wonder woman, that had all of it’s momentum obliterated over the weekend.

    Let Geoff be Geoff, and let him have the next year to do what needs to be done with the DCEU. And Warners needs to fire their CEO tomorrow.

  15. Dr Wally Rises says:

    Remember just less than a decade ago, when I Am Legend teased a Batman & Superman team-up movie poster and everyone went hog-wild? These characters coming together is just about the easiest sell you could possibly get.

  16. Chucky says:

    “Lady Bird” and “Roman J. Israel” are both going national in midweek when Thanksgiving is celebrated in the US.
    And theaters do need films other than brand-name movies aimed at fanboys with mommy’s plastic.

  17. Bitplaya says:

    @Bulldog68 higher audience reviews but not the right audience. You want to be a blockbuster you need people to be passionate about it on some level. The thing needs to work. If the hardcore nerds that should be eating this shit up think it’s just okay it’s not enough anymore. Too much mediocre product. They won’t even get merchandise bumps from this shit. At least Harley Quinn was a big a Halloween costume.

  18. leahnz says:

    ‘mudbound’ is really good

  19. cadavra says:

    Not sure the ROMAN/FENCES comparison is apt. The former is an original story. The latter was the first feature adaptation of an August Wilson play and reunited the entire adult cast of its enormously successful Broadway run. People were eagerly awaiting it, especially those who were unable to get tickets to the play (including yours truly).

  20. Bulldog68 says:

    @Bitplaya: Hardcore nerds don’t make blockbusters, massive amounts of general movie going audiences do. And as for passion being a key ingredient for a blockbuster, see every Transformers movie save the first one, which are probably the most hated blockbusters that were in the stratosphere until they finally ran out of steam this year.

  21. Dick says:

    Tsujihara is on thin ice for a number of reasons and this just creates more cracks in the ice.

    The bigger question is does the hammer also fall on Diane Nelson, whose reign at WBCP and DC are bleeding money and not solving problems.

  22. Bulldog68 says:

    Scratch $96m. Actuals are now at $93m, so placing it under GotG1 and Winter Soldier. And with no history of legs to speak of save Wonder Woman, we might be looking at $230m if some Thanksgiving magic doesn’t happen. A figure Thor has already crossed. That’s pretty bad.

  23. PcChongor says:

    Seconding “Mudbound.” Couldn’t believe it was shot for only $10 million. Great performances all around and some gorgeous cinematography. See it in theaters if you can.

  24. leahnz says:

    “Couldn’t believe it was shot for only $10 million”

    same. make it count (rachel Morrison’s the real deal)

  25. JS Partisan says:

    Warners needs a regime change. It’s needed it for a fucking while now.

  26. Hcat says:

    Great to hear praise of Mudbound by flesh and blood people, was impressed by Pariah and it’s always exciting when a filmmaker delivers on their early promise.

    Impressed Murder on Orient was able to make this a horse race with daddy’s home. I thought 50 would likely be the ceiling but there seems to be steam left in the engine. They announced the sequel this morning. It’s going to be hell keeping sand out of that mustache.

    So JL failing to catch dispicable me 3 much less Thor and spidey is certainly a black eye, but just before blade runners opening weren’t we all singing Warner’s praises high on Dunkirk and amazons and creepy dolls and clowns? Is this stumble so catastrophic that heads should roll, especially since it’s seems most of you think they actually delivered a good movie?

  27. JS Partisan says:

    Hcat, their failures are greater than their successes. Marvel Studios, on three movies this year, are going to make 2.4 billion dollars. Even if the movies cost 1bn to make, PR included, that’s still a nice return on investment. That’s even if you include what the fuck is happening with China and whatever.

    Now you have Warners, who hasn’t even come close to generating that much money with their properties, and they have THE MOST ICONIC COMIC BOOK CHARACTERS ON EARTH! I love Marvel, but the Trinity is referred to the TRINITY, for a reason. Warners makes a connected universe, and can’t even make Dark Knight Rises money. Not one of these movies, has made a billion dollars, and that’s just not good.

    When you have a license to print money, recurring fucking money, and you aren’t printing that money? People at the tippy top, have to lose their jobs. It sucks, but Justice League is just such a boondoggle, that someone is going to have to walk away.

    What’s even more fucked up about Warners right now, is Wonder Woman. Their one hit is now an albatross for them, because you just can’t get rid of your one success. You just can’t, and lest we forget… Aquaman is coming out in a year. They just can’t nuke this world, so they just have to take it… but does new leadership agree to take it? It’s a whole fucking thing.

  28. Hcat says:

    Of the five films in the shared universe this will be the first one that may not show a profit. The other four not only made money worldwide but all domestically landed in Warner’s all time top ten highest grossing films. Outside of that they were able to continue Rowling’s universe, make much more money than they deserved on hobbits, turned newline into a giant horror cash machine, and are bringing together Kong and Godzilla. Comparing DC grosses to Marvel is of course normal, but this is sort of like suggesting they scrap Mission Impossibles because they don’t do Skyfall money. Warner’s is going to finish second domestically and likely third worldwide, but you think they should start clearing house while staring down an excruciating sale of the company because a film (again, one you wholeheartedly adore) opened soft.

  29. Dick says:

    The problem with discussing Marvel vs. Disney is structural.

    From film development to marketing, Marvel is a silo’d engine of production. Feige develops, D’Esposito handles physical production and Ayaz oversees marketing. It’s not Ricky Strauss or even Sameth on marketing. It’s not Sean Bailey or Lassiter for development.

    At Warners it all funnels under the same slate builders or marketers as Lego or Harry Potter fare….

    I’m not sure Tsujihara has the knowledge or political power to do a similar structure. Alan Horn seems to be a big mistake during the last purge.

  30. JS Partisan says:

    Hcat, that’s just micro-think, of a macro-problem. Batman Vs Superman, should have been a BILLION PLUS DOLLAR MOVIE! The same with fucking Justice League, and neither got fucking close. That’s why they should clean house, because properties that should generate BILLIONS, are generating HUNDRED OF MILLIONS. They are leaving so much money on the table, that it cannot be ignored.

    Again, these movies are a license to print money, and DC has been making okay money. They haven’t been making the money, that these fucking movies should generate given the PROPERTIES they represent.

  31. Hcat says:

    One franchise in a well functioning film and television studio is a micro problem.

    Now A macro problem would be the creative force behind half of your family driven slate taking a ‘sabbatical’ on the eve of its most recent release because of sexual harassment claims.

  32. JS Partisan says:

    Hcat, that is some shit, and let me just emphasize this again. BvS and JL, should be 1bn to 1.5bn movies. They should be successful on a level surpassing the Marvel Studio films… and they just failed on every damn level.

    Again, Marvel Studios is the most successful franchise ever… and guess what? THEY DON’T HAVE BATMAN, SUPERMAN, OR DIANA! Warners, should hold that damn title, because they have three superheroes that scream, “SUPERHEROES OF SUPERHEROES.” They haven’t made money, real money, since 2012. That’s just ridiculous.

  33. Dick says:


    You are missing the issue. Hitting expectations. Warner’s management isn’t concerned with profits nearly as much as they are as hitting their organizational targets for profits/loss.

    That’s a magna/macro/micro/and nano problem.

  34. Hcat says:

    I ain’t missing dick Dick, It will be easy enough just to watch how this plays out and see if anyone gets canned.

  35. JS Partisan says:

    Hcat, how do you feel about this Pixar stuff? Rashida Jones, stating Pixar doesn’t care about women or people of color, is just some earth shattering shit. Sure. Leah has been saying it for like 11 years, but Jones’ response being, “No. He didn’t assault me. He just didn’t care about my ideas, because I am a woman of color,” is just damning on a DISNEY HATES BAD PR level.

    Lasseter had a good run, but you can’t be white and male at Pixar forever. Here’s a woman running that place, and running all those old white dudes out. Once they are out. Maybe they become interesting like Andrew Stanton.

  36. Hcat says:

    The Pixar stuff is just awful. It speaks to the volatility of the industry right now that just having Jones leave the project opened the floodgates for the harassment stories to surface even though she was not herself harassed. Good for her for leaving a massively high profile project like that because she did not feel she or other women or people of color were taken seriously. The thing is she was able to do that because she is in a position where she doesn’t need the work to make rent but I feel awful for all the non industry royalty people that had to put up with that shit for decades for the paycheck.

    I am interested on seeing how Disney plays this since he is their golden goose and certainly the biggest industry power to have these accusations leveled against. This six months “time out” can’t possibly be sufficient, if the industry is really embracing harassment free workplaces he has to be done. And of course his statement was a big pile of shit. I had no idea I was doing anything wrong, what people don’t like hugs?

    And while Disney seemed to be able to sidestep the whole Weinstein debacle despite him being under their roof for a decade, this is going to make them answer some indelicate questions about their corporate culture.

  37. Spacesheik says:

    I thought BvS was a tedious, dark affair, aesthetically it was horrible, shot mostly at night, crammed with congressional hearings and tv spots on Superman (who was devoid of heroics in the film) – it wasnt a Superman movie. It wasnt a Batman movie – the premise: both parties slugging it out was inept and ill thought out.

    So based on that why would I want to see JUSTICE LEAGUE, the trailers made it look like a Playstation video CGI cut scene – the kind you click on to get on with the game. Not a good omen.

    And for the record I saw WONDER WOMAN and loved it, they got everything right with that film.

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