'Justice League' Projections Estimate $50M to $100M Loss For Warner Bros.

The bumpy road of Justice League's production has become even more rocky since the film hit theaters. At the time of writing this, Justice League is falling well short of projected box office earnings, and that just may be the beginning of the fallout.

A new report in Forbes from former studio executive, producer, and film finance consultant Rob Cain breaks down where Justice League is in terms of earnings - and where it may be headed. Needless to say, it doesn't look good for Warner Bros. or DC Films, based on Cain's speculation.

You can read the full numbers breakdown in the article, but the long-short of Cain's projections point to Justice League losing an estimated $50 - 100 million over the life of its theatrical run and home video / TV release.

Here are some other details from the report, worth discussing:

  • Cain puts Justice League's overall worldwide box office at an estimated $635 million total.
  • Justice League is estimated to earn an additioanl $170 million in subscription / VOD / online home video sales.
  • Warner Bros. is estimated to earn $545 million in net revenue for the film, set against a $600 million estimated cost to make, market, and release the film.
  • Retail income for Justice League is not really speculated on (a reference is made to Batman v Superman still earning $800 million - 1 billion in annual merchandise sales, so JL could definitely top that and offset some loses on the actual movie.
  • The final $50 - 100 million range in possible losses depends on a lot of factors (overhead costs, time to collect on residuals, actual marketing costs for the studio, etc.) but it is a solid estimate.
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Getting away from numbers, the Forbes report goes on to break down how Justice League may turn out to be the biggest underperformer of any superhero blockbuster of the last few years. Cain speculates that it could be enough of a blow to put films like Aquaman into series question, and even force studios like Marvel to re-examine the math of producing superhero movies that cost over $100 million.

If anything, it seems to be Fox who has the game figured out right now, making more moderate-sized and creatively bold superhero films like Deadpool ($58 million) and Logan ($97 million) which bring back huge returns on investment.

Justice League is now in theaters; Aquaman arrives on December 21, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Wonder Woman 2 on November 1st, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020.