LOS ANGELES – In a superhero showdown, the combined forces of Warner Bros.’ “Justice League” was enough to topple “Thor: Ragnarok” from the top spot at the box office, despite a soft opening for the DC Comics mash-up.
“Justice League” grossed an estimated $96 million in the U.S. and Canada, according to ComScore, below predictions of $110 million.
The film, which earned a B plus on CinemaScore and a 40 percent “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, opened below the studio’s previous iterations of Batman movies starring Ben Affleck (“Suicide Squad” at $133.7 million and “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” at $166 million), plus “Man of Steel” ($116.6 million) and “Wonder Woman” ($103.2 million).
“It’s not where you start, it’s where you end up,” said Jeff Goldstein, the studio’s distribution chief. “We always knew it would be complicated when you take a movie where you’re introducing three new characters that have not been on the screen before. It’s more or less their origin story: Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman. Clearly, the audiences have really just embraced each one of these characters.”
Warner Bros. declined to give a budget for “Justice League,” which was co-financed by RatPac-Dune Entertainment, but people close to the project estimated it cost about $300 million to make, not factoring in marketing spending.
The picture also stars Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Henry Cavill as Superman, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, Jason Momoa as Aquaman and Ezra Miller as the Flash. The next live-action DC movie from Warner Bros. is “Aquaman,” set for December 2018.
In second place, Lionsgate’s “Wonder” brought in $27 million in its first week, well above analysts’ predictions of
$9 million. The film, about a boy trying to cope with a facial deformity, earned an A plus on CinemaScore and an 84 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Disney’s “Thor: Ragnarok” slipped to third place in its third week, grossing $21.8 million.
In fourth place, Paramount’s “Daddy’s Home 2” brought in $14.8 million in its second week.
Rounding out the top five, Fox’s “Murder on the Orient Express” took in $13.8 million in its second week.
Also new over the weekend, Sony’s animated Nativity picture “The Star” took in $10 million, above analysts’ expectations of $7 million.
The latest faith-based effort from Sony Pictures’ successful Affirm label, the $20 million film is about a young donkey’s role in the first Christmas. “The Star” earned positive reviews from audiences and critics, garnering an A rating on CinemaScore and a 62 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
In limited release, A24’s comedy drama “Lady Bird” added 201 locations and brought in an additional $2.5 million.
Fox Searchlight expanded “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” into 49 additional locations, earning $1.1 million.
Sony’s “Roman J. Israel, Esq” opened in four theaters with $65,000. Starring Denzel Washington, the movie earned a 55 percent “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
This week, Disney opens “Coco” and Sony Classics premieres “Call Me by Your Name” in limited release.
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