Justice League has been a beleaguered property.
Multiple incarnations failed to come together, and even this version needed two directors after Zack Snyder was unable to finish due to a family tragedy.
After years of blood, sweat, and tears, Warner Bros execs are shaking in their boots.
The studio apparently tried to shield negative press with a prolonged critic embargo, but the cat is out of the bag, and the reviews are not good.
Justice League reviews are in. Well, they’ve been in, but if you didn’t know that, I wouldn’t blame you. For those who care about movie scores, Rotten Tomatoes is the aggregator of choice…
…Rotten Tomatoes has put up its scores for Justice League, which has now dropped from a 43% to a 40% since the original score reveal. It is…unprecedented to hide scores this long after embargo and release them only hours before the first showings of the film.
That’s not great, as even if it’s above Batman V. Superman and Suicide Squad (27% and 26%), it’s below Man of Steel’s 55% and miles behind Wonder Woman’s 92%.
But it’s arguably more significant than either considering this is supposed to be the DCEU’s answer to Marvel’s The Avengers, a movie that scored a 92% and grossed over $1.5 billion worldwide.
This would be weird enough, Rotten Tomatoes shielding this score from the public eye for this long after reviews have gone live on individual sites, but an added wrinkle is that Warner Bros, the company that just spent several hundred million dollars making and marketing Justice League, owns a 30% stake in Rotten Tomatoes. It acquired the site in 2011, and in 2016, sold 70% of it to Comcast’s Fandango, the movie ticket-buying site.
While it is extremely unusual for a film this big to have its RT score unlisted for this long, the innocent explanation for this is that Rotten Tomatoes simply wants people to watch See It or Skip It, so they hide the score to get them to view their 10 minute web show. Fine, but there are a few problems with that idea:
If Rotten Tomatoes wants to make a big spectacle of unveiling their fresh/rotten score, that’s fine, but why not have the show go live close to when the actual embargo lifts, which in Justice League’s case, was a full day and a half ago? RT has to know when these embargoes are, so why not plan the show around that?
So far as I can tell, See It or Skip It isn’t ad-supported. There’s no pre-roll video ad during the show, nor is it even hosted on RottenTomatoes.com (it’s on Facebook) so I can’t imagine this is some big revenue driver that RT must send traffic to, which is worth all this fuss.
Justice League will enjoy a mammoth opening weekend because of the name brand alone, but bad word of mouth could tank its success in following weeks; bad press sank Batman v Superman after its opening.
Warner Bros scored a win with Wonder Woman, but aside from Christopher Nolan’s closed Batman universe, the studio has been unsuccessful in putting together winning DC properties.
It’s a shame because DC arguably has the most iconic characters, but the film adaptations just aren’t working.
Part of the problem is impatience. For example, Warner Bros should’ve been able to launch a successful solo Flash film, or a Batman reboot with Ben Affleck (which may not happen at all) before throwing everyone together in a team-up movie.
Audiences haven’t been introduced to the Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman yet. Marvel’s Avengers was the culmination of several successful individual movies.
If Justice League tanks, that could poison the well for any solo efforts.
Warner Bros is at a crossroads. The studio needs to figure out the vision for these venerated DC characters.