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Box Office: ‘Justice League’ Heading for Disappointing $95 Million Opening

Warner Bros.-DC’s “Justice League” is heading for a disappointing opening weekend of about $95 million at 4,051 North American locations, early estimates showed on Friday.

The first Friday estimates for “Justice League” are well under the studio’s recent guidance, which had been in the $110 million range. Should it come in at the top of current estimates, “Justice League” might finish the weekend in the same range as “The Fate of the Furious” — which launched in April to $98.7 million as the seventh-largest opening of the year.

The six films that have cracked the $100 million opening mark this year are Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” at $174.8 million, Disney-Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” at $146.5 million, Warner-New Line’s “It” at $123.4 million, Disney-Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok” at $122.7 million, Sony-Marvel’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming” at $117 million, and Warner-DC’s “Wonder Woman” at $103.3 million. A total of 48 titles have topped $100 million in North America in their debut frames.

“Justice League” notched the fifth-biggest Thursday preview of 2017 with $13 million, following “Guardians 2,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Homecoming,” and “Ragnarok.” That figure was also $2 million more than “Wonder Woman’s” Thursday night number in June.

“Justice League” had been on track for an opening weekend of $110 million since late October. Stakes are high for Warner Bros., which hasn’t revealed the cost of “Justice League” — estimated to be as much as $300 million. The movie is the fifth installment of its DC Extended Universe, aimed at duplicating the success of Disney-Marvel’s interconnected franchises.

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

Reviewers have not been impressed with “Justice League,” which carries a 39% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Its opening comes two weeks after Disney-Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok” debuted above forecasts with a $122.7 million opening weekend in what was the fourth-biggest launch of the year.

An early audience survey from comScore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak for “Justice League” showed that the film is connecting with moviegoers with a 69% “definite recommend” rating. Women over 25 gave the movie a whopping 93% positive score. According to the survey, 26% of moviegoers said they plan to buy the film on Blu-ray and 23% expressed a desire to see the pic again in theaters.

“Justice League” began launching in foreign markets on Wednesday and had taken in $27.3 million in its first two days at 23,000 international sites. It earned $16.4 million Friday in its first day in China.

“Justice League” follows up on the events in 2016’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” as Batman and Wonder Woman assemble a team to defeat the villain Steppenwolf, played by Ciaran Hinds.

Lionsgate is seeing impressive results from its counterprogrammer “Wonder.” Despite expectations for a $9 million launch, early estimates Friday showed that the film was over-performing and could finish in the $20 million to $25 million range at 3,096 locations. The drama, starring Jacob Tremblay as a fifth-grader with a facial deformity, took in $740,000 at more than 2,400 locations on Thursday night.

“Wonder” has a decent shot at finishing in second place ahead of the third weekend of “Thor: Ragnarok,” which has grossed an impressive $225.6 million in its first 14 days. Reviews for “Wonder,” which also stars Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, have been stellar with an 88% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sony’s launch of faith-based animated drama “The Star” is performing slightly above expectations of $7 million at 2,837 venues as it heads for sixth place. The film, released by the studio’s Affirm label, presents the Nativity story through the eyes of the animals.

Fox’s second weekend of “Murder on the Orient Express” and Paramount’s sophomore session of  “Daddy’s Home 2” will be battling for fourth place in the $12 million to $14 million range.

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