After years of delays, The Flash finally landed in cinemas last week, and despite initial strong reviews and various DC bigwigs declaring it “one of the greatest superhero movies of all time”, The Flash had a less than heroic opening weekend.
Early estimates forecast a $70 million US launch; despite a solid start on Friday for a 4-day weekend, The Flash lost speed and wound up with a subpar $55 million debut. To put that into perspective, Black Adam managed a US opening weekend of $67 million over the standard three-day period, so a movie that was a bonafide box office flop made more money in less time than The Flash. If Warner Bros were hoping that the international box office would turn things around, the $74.5 million The Flash generated is not a good sign.
There are a lot of factors to consider as to why The Flash stumbled so severely at the box office; firstly, Ezra Miller’s behaviour has generated plenty of unfavourable headlines. It was rumoured that Warner Bros was considering releasing the movie on HBO Max; there was even talk of replacing Miller through deepfake technology.
While Miller attended the red carpet event, they were not available for any press for the film. Next, there’s the very real superhero fatigue; Marvel has been hit-and-miss since Phase 3 ended, and DC has been all over the place. Batgirl got shelved despite being deep into post-production; Henry Cavill confirmed he was coming back as Superman; he even showed up for a cameo in Black Adam. However, shortly after James Gunn and Peter Safran took over as the new heads of DC Films, Cavill broke the sad news that he was no longer reprising the role.
Ultimately, being a DC fan right now is a confusing and frequently frustrating experience. Before I veer too off-point (too late), as it’s no secret the DCU is getting a reboot, interest in the remaining movies in a now-defunct universe is low. Even the return of Michael Keaton as Batman (which loses some impact as he was in the cancelled Batgirl, which we will never get to see) wasn’t enough to tempt fans to check it out. Having seen it recently, The Flash is by no means one of the best superhero or comic book movies of all time, and after nine seasons of an excellent TV series, The Flash, the thrill of seeing the character on the big screen just wasn’t there. Between Marvel’s Multiverse of Madness and now DC’s The Flash, neither has managed to open the doors to the multiverse truly; the door is merely ajar.
Due to the ongoing writer’s strike, this is the first time in 15 years that all the US late-night talk shows haven’t been on the air. You might not think there is a correlation between light-hearted late-night talk shows and the success of a big studio movie, but the stars of said big studio movies get to promote them to millions of households. It’s a powerful marketing tool that this year’s summer releases won’t utilise.
So, now I’ve waffled on about why The Flash, what does it mean for the two remaining 2023 DC movies, Blue Beetle and the long-delayed Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom? Both are still due in cinemas this year, but their box-office prospects don’t look so promising. On a more hopeful note, next year will see the release of Todd Philips’ Joker: Folie à Deux, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Lady Gaga, while it remains to be seen if lighting can strike twice for the anticipated sequel, I have to believe they are making a sequel as they have a killer idea. That said, it might have something to do with the $1 billion Joker made at the box office.
All we know for sure is that 2025 will bring us James Gunn’s Superman: Legacy, and Matt Reeves returns to direct The Batman 2 starring Robert Pattinson. Some exciting TV series spin-offs are coming our way, with The Penguin starring Colin Farrell, and Viola Davis will lead the series Waller. James Gunn has promised to make Peacemaker Season 2 his priority after finishing Superman Legacy. As exciting as all those projects might be, I’m still gutted that Doom Patrol is ending; the final six episodes will arrive later this year.
The Flash is in cinemas now.