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Box Office: ‘Justice League’ Soaring to $110 Million U.S. Opening

Warner Bros.-DC’s “Justice League” remains on track for an impressive — but hardly heroic — opening weekend of $110 million at 4,040 North American locations.

Tracking for the mega-budget superhero tentpole hasn’t shifted since Oct. 26, when estimates were first unveiled. Since then, Disney-Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok” opened with $122.7 million on the first weekend in November in what was the fourth-biggest launch of the year after “Beauty and the Beast,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” and “It.”

Justice League” is also opening day-and-date in international markets, with the film launching in Belgium, Brazil, France, Scandinavia, and South Korea on Wednesday.

Stakes are high for Warner Bros., which hasn’t revealed the cost of “Justice League” — estimated to be as much as $300 million, although the studio has provided no guidance on the cost. The movie is the fifth installment of its DC Extended Universe, aimed at duplicating the success of Disney-Marvel’s interconnected franchises.

Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, and Ray Fisher star. Amy Adams, Amber Heard, Jeremy Irons, J.K. Simmons, and Willem Dafoe also appear in the pic. Zack Snyder began shooting “Justice League” in April of 2016, from a script by Chris Terrio. Joss Whedon — director of  Marvel-Disney’s two “Avengers” movies — finished up the directing duties following the tragic suicide of Snyder’s daughter in March.

Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman gave “Justice League” a positive review: “‘Justice League,’ the latest link of Tinkertoy in the DC Comics universe, has been conceived, in each and every frame, to correct the sins of ‘Batman v Superman.’ It’s not just a sequel — it’s an act of franchise penance.”

Critic aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes is delaying its reveal of the film’s aggregate critic score until Thursday at 12:01 a.m. to coincide with the unveiling of their new Facebook show, “See It/Skip It.”

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” turned out to be mildly disappointing for Warner Bros., grossing $873 million worldwide after a $166 million opening weekend in March of 2016. Snyder directed from Terrio’s screenplay, which introduced Affleck as Batman, Gadot as Wonder Woman, Momoa as Aquaman, and Miller as the Flash. But reviewers were harsh with a 27% aggregate rating, while “Suicide Squad,” featuring appearances from Affleck and Miller, struggled even more with a 26% rating.

“Wonder Woman” was the fourth installment in the studio’s DC Extended Universe, which launched with 2013’s “Man of Steel” with an opening weekend of $116 million, followed by last year’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad.”

“Wonder Woman,” made for about $150 million, is critically acclaimed, with a 92% “fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes. The tentpole over-performed forecasts following its June launch with  a $103 million opening — and revived fan faith in Warner Bros. It wound up with $412 million domestically, the second-highest figure this year after “Beauty and the Beast.” The worldwide total was $821 million.

“Justice League” is opening at 400 Imax locations, 600 premium large-format screens, 200 motion seat venues, 200 dine-in locations, and 60 drive-ins. It will begin Thursday night previews at 6 p.m. at about 3,700 North American locations. Advance ticket sales for “Justice League” are outpacing “Wonder Woman” on MovieTickets.com at the same point in sales cycle.

“Justice League” is also opening amid hopes of a revival of domestic moviegoing, which has been battered this year by a dismal August and a downbeat October. As of Nov. 13, the year-to-date total was off 5.2% to $9.16 billion, according to comScore.

The weekend will also see the openings of a pair of lower-cost counter-programming titles. Sony is launching its animated faith-based “The Star” in approximately 2,800 locations and Lionsgate is debuting family drama “Wonder” at 3,100 sites, with both studios hoping for runs well into the holiday season.

“The Star,” the Nativity story told from the point of view of the animals, is expected to take in about $7 million. It’s being handled by Sony’s Affirm Films and co-financed by Walden Media. Produced by DeVon Franklin, “The Star” carries a $20 million price tag.

“Wonder” stars Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, and Jacob Tremblay in the story of a boy’s struggles to deal with a facial deformity. Forecasts are in the $9 million range. The film is produced by Lionsgate with Participant Media, Walden Media, and Mandeville Films — which have promoted “Wonder” extensively on social media and in schools to highlight the kindness message of the film.

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