It’s time to cue up Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence,” because I’m sorry to report that Justice League took home just $96 million at the domestic box office this weekend. That sounds like a lot, but by the standards for superhero blockbusters, it’s a big disappointment and a much lower number than the film’s projected opening, which was estimated to fall somewhere between $110–$115 million. What’s worse, Justice League represents a huge investment for Warner Bros., having cost an estimated $300 million to make, according to Variety.
So what went wrong? This has been a dismal year for blockbusters in general, but Justice League’s opening weekend numbers are lower than any of its predecessors in the D.C. Extended Universe. That includes Wonder Woman, which grossed $103 million, the biggest opening in history for a female-directed film, earlier this year, despite having a budget believed to be half the size of Justice League’s. In theory, bringing back Gal Gadot as the famous Amazon, plus adding Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, and Ray Fisher to the mix, ought to have helped Justice League’s chances. But the film received a tepid response from critics and holds a solid “rotten” score of 40 on Rotten Tomatoes, the website so often blamed by studios on occasions like these.
There’s still a chance that Justice League will pick up steam in the week ahead, especially considering we have a holiday weekend coming up. But for a movie that was touted as the future of the D.C. Extended Universe—and one set up to build hype for the upcoming Aquaman (2018) and Cyborg (2020) standalone movies—such a poor opening weekend is not a great sign. All together now: “Hello darkness, my old friend. …”