I saw Justice League twice the week that it opened. I thoroughly enjoyed it both times, though the second time was much better for me and in both cases I was in a theater full of people who loudly proclaimed their enjoyment throughout the movie and afterwards in the lobby. A seriously great time was had by all who saw it, as far as I could see.
Three days later, I'm told that Justice League is a failure. A massive disappointment and an unmitigated disaster for the DC Extended Universe. What was supposed to be the franchise's "Avengers" moneymaker is instead a grave error on the part of WB/DC and a horrific miscalculation that could mean the certain end of the DCEU without warning.
This proclamation of doom for the franchise is one that I've heard before, but this was the last movie that I expected to hear it after. That's not the most maddening part of this, though. No, that's reserved for the fact that these doomsday declarations for the movie and in turn the franchise are based solely on the opening weekend box office numbers for Justice League, which despite being No. 1 across the planet featured "only" $93.8 million domestically according to Box Office Mojo, a far cry from the $110-$120 million minimum that many were predicting and expecting to occur.
So this is where we are now as a people? Calling movies complete and utter disasters after only three days at the box office? That's......ridiculous, in every sense of the word.
I know that Forbes, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Exhibitor Relations and several other verified and professional outlets will tell you that I am sticking my head in the sand and ignoring the truth. Hell, there's a lot of DCEU fans that are currently suffering from "Outright Betrayal Syndrome" that will tell you the same thing, though their reasoning is a bit different than the others. I can't control what they think of me or what I am saying, but I can offer you my take on what is going on here and it's pretty simple:
We are spending too much time worrying about everything that isn't the movie instead of the movie itself.
I've made this point before back when the Matt Reeves saga was in full swing and DCEU fans were ready to climb on the ledge because they were certain that the solo Batman movie had lost yet another director, displaying to them what was clear incompetence on the part of WB/DC in being unable to secure a point-person for the next Batman movie. Then a week later he signed his contract and was officially on board.
When I was younger and I watched movies at the theater, comic book or otherwise, I never cared how much they made at the box office or what deals were being made to produce and direct them. All I wanted to do was see the movie because it looked cool in the trailers and it seemed like a good time. Rarely if ever was I disappointed after watching them.
Then at some point when I got older, box office became a talking point for movie geeks and along with it, the business of how movies are made and what decisions go into making them. Suddenly, contract negotiations, labor disputes and production budgets were part of what helps a person decide to see a movie or not and influences their opinion of it if and when they see it. Last year for the first time ever on a regular basis, I was introduced to the talking point of marketing budgets being a big deal because people were using that at the time undetermined number to state that the total box office for Batman v Superman: Dawn Justice had "barely broken even" because of how much was spent on marketing, adding to the argument that the movie was also a failure.
Maybe I am just talking to the wrong people, but it looks like box office performance has become a major item that people now use in conversation to declare their opinion on a movie as an absolute fact, when it is anything but that at all. Box office can be an objective measure of how popular a particular movie is, but it has nothing to do with the quality of the movie whatsoever. Yet we see so many people use it as a way to declare a movie a failure and also to support their own subjective opinion that it is bad.
The question is, why do we care so much about the business aspect of movies? What happened to just caring about the movie that we really want to see? The first thing a fan will tell you is that the business aspect, particularly the box office itself will help determine if more movies from that particular franchise will be made in the future. Indeed, there are many now who feel the DCEU is in grave danger because of Justice League's failure in its opening weekend. The thing is, anything can potentially happen to change the decision making of a movie studio, not just the box office. If there is a change in ownership, if there is a scandal or other legalities or if any other seismic business event occurs, it could change the future of a movie franchise just as much if not more than the box office result could, so why worry about any of it? Why not just wait for the announcement of the next movie to be released and then deal with that movie when it comes out?
For that matter, since when did the first three days of a movie's release become more important than the entire theatrical run? The idea of calling any movie, Justice League or otherwise a complete failure after just three days in release is shortsighted at best, pessimistic at worst. Again, those who are paid to write about these things on a regular basis will give you all manner of examples, history and calculation to show the trend of what a movie with a particular opening weekend will do in the long run, but in the end they are still only left with a prediction of what is to come from the box office, not a certainty. It's never a certainty until the final numbers are in for the movie, and we are a long ways away from that yet for Justice League.
In three weeks if Justice League is doing so poorly that it actually leaves all theaters once Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is released and the final numbers on the film represent a ledger in the red for WB/DC, then you can consider it a failure. Until then, you're just making a guess, educated or not on what the movie is going to do and making a proclamation about it before the movie has a chance to gain any legs whatsoever, assuming that it can.
Honestly, this trend of paying so much attention to box office performance and projections along with all of the other business involved with making movies is making it less appealing to be a fan of them, especially if you are a fan of certain franchises like the DCEU. In the past year and a half, all manner of business related production items and box office totals have been used by writers and fans alike to paint a grim picture of the entire franchise as a whole, when all someone like me wants to do is watch the movies when they come out. That's it. That's all I want. I couldn't care less about budgets, contracts and projections of success or failure. I seriously just want my movies when they are ready to be released. Is that too much to ask these days? Are we just now forever going to have to deal with all of the other minutiae in between each movie as being more important to focus on than the movie itself? Is that the kind of fandom any of us want to be a part of? One where opening weekends and marketing budgets are used against you in an argument as you defend a movie you like to those who disagree with you?
No, that's not a fandom that I want to be a part of one bit, so if it's all the same to you I will wait for Justice League to actually become a real failure before I call it one......assuming that it does become one at some point. I'm willing to wait and see, even if many are not.