“Justice League” might not hit $100 million on opening, Suicide Watch at Warners

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OK, I kid. And what do we say? We kid because we love.

I was chatting with a couple of theater managers today about Thursday night’s and Friday pre-sale numbers for “Justice League,” and one said and I quote, “OK, but it’s not like WE KNOW this movie is opening because of the crowds. Not like ‘Star Wars,’ where the place is just packed and buzzing.”

So. Multiply that by a few thousand cineplexes, and damned if “Justice League” didn’t manage a Thursday night and daytime Friday that points to a $93-96 million opening.

Considering the projections from Box Office Mojo and others were $110 million, well, no champagne at the WB this weekend. Maybe Korbel. But not the good stuff.

I saw it as roughly on a par with the spectacularly successful and grossly over-rated “Wonder Woman.” Folks, these movies are long past the point where they share an original idea. “Wonder Woman” was “The First Avenger” — War, Germans, a bomber that “must be stopped.” Seriously.

“Justice League” has a great Jason Momoa take on Aqua Man, a nebbishy spin on The Flash. And that Israeli model Gal Gadot is back as Diana, the “adult in the room” over all those superheroes. Light in tone, utterly generic in plot (structure, villain, etc).

These aren’t serious movies, they’re serious money-makers and the best “Avengers” is not that much better than the worst “Justice League.” So, as Abraham Lincoln once said in a review, “Those who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.”

He used that because “I laughed, I cried,” was taken.

On the other hand, “Wonder” is selling out evening showings, my manager friends told me. Sure enough, Deadline.com confirms it’s headed towards a spectacular $27 million plus opening.

“Nobody” is going to see “The Star,” my cineplex folks tell me. Maybe $9 million nationwide by Sunday midnight.

And “Lady Bird,” on just 240 or so screens, cracked the top 10. “Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri” is in there, too. Quality and Oscar contending is a selling point, too.

One thing working against “Justice League”  which nobody is talking about? Rotten Tomatoes withholding critic-linked reviews of the film until Thursday afternoon, to allow two critics that they’re promoting on a TV show/webcast as their…whatevers.

Warners, part owners of RT, might have been down with hiding reviews for a movie after the “Batman vs. Superman” debacle (which I rather liked for its tone and the fact that is was “about something”), and “Suicide Squad,” where all the reviews (mine was one of the first posted) nuked it.

Remember, fans were raging at RT for killing “Suicide Squad” by simply aggregating all the reviews, which were bad, or at least somewhat negative. RT doesn’t determine what real movie critics say. The new folks on their payroll? Jury’s out on that.

You could go to the much more nuanced and selective (fewer fanboy “critics”) Metacritic and get an accurate take on “Justice.” Not terrible, not at all.  Weak, but workable. Not every movie buff checks Metacritic, though. The fools.

And RT’s “Justice” stunt made it look like they were helping WB hide the film from ticket buyers.

Who, if my staggering readership numbers are an indicator, simply clicked on Metacritic (lots of referral links in my metrics) and saw the movie wasn’t terrible.

RT gave the film the air of something worth hiding. They punched a hole in “Justice League,” just for a chance to launch two young, telegenic nobodies nobody has ever heard of on a TV show where they share their five years of moviewatching experience.

Sorry, sometimes you feel like poking the bear.

Anyway, maybe Saturday will fix this shortfall, maybe Sunday will push those numbers up. Stay tuned. Here.

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