It turns out audiences are not too giddy about witnessing the injustice of seeing an alleged serial groper and enabler of sexual predators — Ben "The Buttman" Affleck — save the world as the leader of DC's "Justice League." Far from the box-office smash the movie hoped, the comic book tentpole failed to attract the big numbers this weekend, pulling in a measly $96 million domestically.
Now you might be saying to yourself, "WOW! $96 million! What a success!" Except this is the year 2017, not 1997 — $96 million barely makes a dent in studio profits after factoring in marketing costs, theater revenues, and production budgets. As it stands, "Justice League" has grossed a tepid $281.5 million worldwide on a budget of $300 million plus another $100 million in marketing costs: $400 million total.
Since theater chains split the profits on ticket sales, the movie would have to gross upward of $700 million to so much as break even. Compare that to "Batman v. Superman," which grossed $872.7 million worldwide and opened to a comfortable $170 million on a $250 million budget. From $170 million to $96 million, that's a full $74 million drop off for a film intended to be a franchise apex.
As noted by CNN, "it's also the lowest opening for the Warner Bros. superhero brand, trailing films like 2013's 'Man of Steel,' 2016's 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,' 2016's 'Suicide Squad' and this summer's 'Wonder Woman.' It is the only film in the DC Extended Universe to not crack the $100 million mark in North America at its opening."
The media has laid the film's failure at the feet of poor critical reception, given the movie now holds an abysmal 40% on Rotten Tomatoes, but the presence of Ben Affleck as the franchise frontman cannot go without mention here.
When the allegations against Affleck's longtime producer friend Harvey Weinstein first broke, the spotlight quickly found Ben Affleck due to his decades-long friendship with the movie mogul. Despite knowing Weinstein for 20 years, Affleck initially suggested they had not known about Weinstein's behavior. However, one of Weinstein's accusers, Rose McGowan, quickly took to social media to castigate Affleck as a liar.
"'GODDAMNIT! I TOLD HIM TO STOP DOING THAT' you said that to my face. The press conf I was made to go to after assault. You lie," McGowan tweeted.
The vultures circling, allegations against Affleck then quickly morphed from lying enabler to fellow harasser as evidence surfaced that he groped actress Hilarie Burton during an episode of TRL in 2003. Though Affleck apologized, more allegations against Affleck sprang forth, all saying he groped women at parties, hence the nickname "Buttman."
Leading up to the film's release, Affleck stayed largely out of the spotlight, taking time to repair his image by taking his kids trick-or-treating with his ex-wife Jennifer Garner and showing up in church with her one Sunday. For Affleck, the move didn't wash and as the film's release crept closer, he again found himself in hot water when he attempted to make light of the Hollywood sex scandal by joking about it during an MTV interview.
Could "Justice League's" terrible box-office performance be an indication that parents take issue with having their kids look up to Ben Affleck? Only time will tell.