It was bad enough that the sycophantic Hollywood media was pretending that a $110 million opening weekend for Justice League would have been anywhere near acceptable. Unfortunately for all concerned, the cold reality of the Harveywood scandal combined with the loss of faith in DC to tell a worthwhile story delivered even worse news — a horrific opening of just $93 million.
No one will say this, but just like the Harveywoood taint on Matt Damon and George Clooney helped to doom Suburbicon, so too did it damage Justice League. Like his pals Damon and Clooney, the DC Universe’s Batman, Ben Affleck, got his big break, his start, thanks to Harvey Weinstein, and did so during Harvey’s halcyon days at Miramax.
You cannot think of Ben without thinking of Harvey, and to make matters worse, last month, Affleck himself was accused of groping numerous women. So far he has only acknowledged and apologized to one, while at the same time strenuously denying he knew anything about his mentor’s alleged predations.
The only problem with that claim of ignorance is that it is difficult to believe when one of Weinstein’s alleged rape victims, Rose McGowan, claims that Affleck is lying, that she told him of the incident right after it allegedly occurred.
Then there is Mr. Woke Feminist Joss Whedon, who stepped in for Zack Snyder to complete some re-shoots after the Justice League director left to deal with a family crisis. Whedon has spent years preening on social media about what a super guy he is when it comes to women — well, except for his wife, who he serially betrayed with “needy young women” on a well-worn casting couch. Whedon’s rape jokes, his misogynist attacks on women who wanted no part of his Chauvinist Thought Plantation, his mockery of female cancer survivors… The man is a pig.
If that is not baggage enough, I give you RatPac, one of the primary production companies behind Justice League, a company named after and founded by Brett Ratner, who is currently facing multiple accusations of straight-up sexual assault.
The reason the Hollywood trades refuse to acknowledge the fact that these scandals are hurting the box office is because these scandals are everywhere in Hollywood, which makes that kind of admission too much to bear.
So just how bad is this $93 million opening? We will start by comparing some apples to some other apples.
To begin with, Justice League is supposed to be DC’s Avengers movie, the one moviegoers are supposed to be breathlessly anticipating, the payoff where the superheroes and the universe finally all come together. With that and Justice League’s $93 million opening in mind, Marvel’s Avengers opened to $207 million. The second Avengers movie, Age of Ultron, opened to $193 million. The most recent Thor chapter, Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok, opened to $122 million.
Worse still, Justice League’s opening is the lowest of the entire DC franchise: Suicide Squad ($133 million), Wonder Woman ($103 million), Man of Steel ($116 million), Batman v. Superman ($166 million).
From a dollars and cents point of view, the reported budget for Justice League is $300 million. The Avengers cost just $220 million.
DC made four vital errors with Justice League. The first three of these errors are called Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad, and Man of Steel, three titles that, by various degrees, disappointed the fans. Once the public loses faith in a brand to deliver, that toothpaste cannot be put back in the tube. In other words, we have no faith in DC to make a decent movie, and there are just too many other options for a freeborn American on a Friday night.
The fourth mistake was toying with the presence of Superman, who is the head of the Justice League. Advertising a Justice League movie without Superman is as dumb as advertising an Avengers movie without Iron Man. Who the hell wants to see that?
Other than the Bright Star of Gal Godot’s Wonder Woman, this franchise has hit the rocks.
Justice League is a terrible movie, which means it is doing the opposite of revitalizing the DC Universe. After this stale meal, who is going to want more Aquaman in 2018, more Flash, more Cyborg in 2020, more Buttman? There is nothing about a single one of these characters that cries out for a standalone movie. The first three are introduced to us in Justice League and make a grating first impression.
The only upcoming entry I have some hope for is Suicide Squad 2. Except for a pretty terrible third act, the original was a solid ride.
Other than that, though, my only reaction to DC’s upcoming schedule is dread. And I suspect I am not alone.