Why ‘The Flash’ Stumbled at the Weekend Box Office
Did you ever see that viral video of that woman falling down at the starting line of a track and field race? And then she gets like a step off the starting line and falls down again?
That’s kind of what happened to The Flash at the box office last weekend.
Experts predicted the film would gross around $65-70, which would already be slightly underwhelming numbers for a film that cost a reported $200 million to make (plus even more to advertise). Instead, the film — the first solo movie in the DC Extended Universe for Ezra Miller’s Flash, and supposedly the movie that would clear the way for the new DC Universe coming to movies and TV from James Gunn — grossed just $55.1 million in theaters last weekend. That number is better than the dreadful $30.1 million Shazam! Fury of the Gods opened with earlier this year, but it’s not even on par with the $67.0 million that Black Adam grossed in its opening weekend in the fall of 2022. That that movie was considered a pretty serious disappointment already.
The news was mostly pretty crummy in theaters last weekend. Pixar’s Elemental also flopped, grossing just $29.5 million in its opening weekend — and it, too, cost well over $100 million to produce.
Here’s the full top five list from last weekend’s box office:
- The Flash - $55.1 million
- Elemental - $29.5 million
- Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse - $27.8 million
- Transformers: Rise of the Beasts - $20.0 million
- The Little Mermaid - $11.6 million
Why It Flopped
As for why The Flash performed below expectations, there are a few potential reasons. For one thing, The Flash has been a television property on The CW for nearly a decade — and the movie version of The Flash was totally separate from the TV version of The Flash. That might have led to confusion by some, and disinterest by others. For another, the movie was largely sold not as a Flash movie but as a big DC crossover, with appearances by Ben Affleck’s and Michael Keaton’s Batmen, with the trailers heavily emphasizing the return of Keaton’s version of the character decades after he last appeared in a DC movie.
But it would seem modern mainstream audiences were not wildly interested in seeing Keaton’s Batman again — and certainly not to the same extent that they were interested in seeing the previous Spider-Man actors again in Spider-Man: No Way Home, a film that might as well have been Warner Bros.’ template for their version of The Flash, with its tale of a young, modern hero taken under the wing of some beloved superheroes of the past.
But there are other potential reasons too. The film’s star, Ezra Miller, had one controversy after another during The Flash’s long post-production process. Although Miller has kept out of trouble since last year, they also were mostly out of the spotlight during the film’s press tour. (Miller’s one appearance came at the film’s world premiere.) That meant The Flash’s central star — the actor playing the Flash! — was not around to promote the movie.
It also may not have helped that a few months before The Flash premiered, new DC Studios co-CEO James Gunn came out and announced the slate of ten movies and shows he was working on, with new versions of the the DCEU characters. Gunn did call The Flash “one of the greatest superhero movies ever made” while he was hyping his own impending DC Universe. But when you tell people something is the greatest movie ever while also telling them you are wiping the slate on a bunch of unpopular movies to do something totally new, that might be a bit of a mixed message.
And it seems like audiences did not agree with Gunn; The Flash only got a “B” CinemaScore from paying customers last weekend. In fact, it’s even worse than the theatrical version of Justice League, a movie seemingly no one enjoys, but still got a B+ CinemaScore.
Maybe audiences are just done with the DCEU at this point, and ready for what’s coming next. Except the DCEU is still what’s coming next. This summer and later this year there are still two more DCEU movies due in theaters: Blue Beetle and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. This franchise is tougher to kill than Superman’s arch-nemesis Doomsday.