Over the weekend, Justice League finally arrived in theaters, bringing in $94 million domestically. For almost any other movie, that would be a home run, but this was a very expensive movie and all of the other DCEU movies so far have grossed more on their opening weekend. This number doesn't bode well for the movie's overall box office run and, as such, Warner Bros. is set to take a huge loss. According to a new report, the studio could lose between $50 and $100 million, with the final tally resting around $75 million when the smoke clears.
Rob Cain, a former studio executive with insider knowledge on how final profits and losses are calculated for big studios like Warner Bros., has ran projected numbers for Justice League based on the opening weekend box office. According to his calculations, the future is pretty grim for the DC movie, which Warner Bros. is basing the future of the DCEU on. Movies like Flashpoint could be in trouble, if his calculations are remotely correct. Here's how Cain calculates the movie's earnings.
"The current box office trajectory suggests a final domestic theatrical gross of around $235 million (that's assuming a 2.45x multiplier on the $96 million first weekend gross, 2.45 being the median multiplier for DC's prior 4 DCEU releases). Overseas I'm projecting a final international tally of around $400 million (assuming fairly generously that JL gets the same hefty 2.15x multiple on its $185 million opening weekend overseas that Batman v Superman (BvS) got on its first overseas weekend. Adding the domestic and overseas numbers gets us a $635 million worldwide theatrical gross. If that number holds up it would mean that Justice League is the lowest-grossing movie among the five DCEU releases so far."
According to the report, Warner Bros. will get to keep around 52% of the domestic grosses, and around 38% of the foreign tally. That means the box office going to Warner Bros. is roughly $275 million. According to his calculations, they'll also see around $170 million from all worldwide home video, including VOD. That means the studio will net $575 million. However, with a $300 million production budget, $150 million marketing budget $60 million for home entertainment costs, $20 million for residuals, $20 million in interest and an estimated $50 million for talent, those numbers don't add up. Here's how Rob Cain breaks it down.
"Total estimated costs: $600 million. Deduct that from the $545 million in studio revenue and we wind up with a $55 million loss. Against Warners' $475 million in upfront production and marketing expenditures, that works out to a negative 12% ROI."
As Rob Cain notes, this is all before the overhead costs for Justice League are factored in, which he estimates to be around $40 million. With that, the potential losses are as high as $75 million. But these are just estimates, it could be a little better or, in a worst-case scenario for Warner Bros., much worse. According to the report by Forbes, that also makes Justice League by far the worst return on investment for a studio for any recent superhero movie, with a list going back to 2014. All of that said, the future of the DCEU may be in trouble. Or, at the very least, some major changes are going to have to take place.