One of the hottest topics in this fall movie season has been the box office of Warner Bros.' Justice League and what it means for the future of the DC film universe. Whatever your feelings on the film itself, it didn't meet box office prognostications and even failed to crack $100 million in its domestic opening weekend. For a film with a big budget and an Avengers-level cast, that's a problem. But, domestic box office isn't the be all end all it used to be and foreign box office is becoming increasingly important. In fact, in China Justice League is totally killing it to become the highest grossing DC film of all time in that country.
The superhero team-up film has brought in an overseas total of $371.8 million bringing its grand worldwide total up to $569.2 million. According to Comicbook.com, $98.6 million of that total comes from China alone. The enthusiasm in China for the film has seen it surpass Wonder Woman and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in just three weeks of release. Justice League had a strong start in China and it has only continued to do well. Perhaps the universe building in previous films resonated more in China and helped propel Justice League to this success. The foreign box office success of Justice League has also helped push Warner Bros. past the $3 billion mark for the year.
Justice League was an extremely expensive film with costly reshoots and a huge marketing campaign. Plus I've heard digital shaving doesn't come cheap. So despite the success of Justice League overseas, and specifically in China, the film could still lose Warner Bros. $50-$100 million overall. In the wake of domestic totals there have been calls for extended cuts and insight into what might have been. While fans may hope for a theatrical release of a Zack Snyder director's cut, that seems unlikely as WB would have to sink more money in to finish visual effects the studio may never see returns on. But, should Justice League 2 move forward, this Chinese box office is a solid foundation to build on and indication that they are doing something right.
Differing global tastes can see a film fall short of expectations domestically, only to find its audience overseas. Pacific Rim for example made $101.8 million domestically on a $190 million budget, but a $309.2 foreign haul has allowed the franchise to continue on. The Transformers films are also another interesting case in that domestic box office has continued to dwindle while overseas audiences still can't get enough of the Bay-hem. Money counts the same no matter where it comes from and movie studios are in the moneymaking business. While we don't know what the future of the DC universe holds, the success of Justice League in China is another testament to the importance and power of the foreign market.