Resurfaced groping allegations against actor Ben Affleck this week created a public relations dilemma for Warner Bros. ahead of the â€œJustice Leagueâ€ filmâ€™s November release, but a top box office tracker says the controversy is unlikely to impact the tentpole franchiseâ€™s bottom line.
Despite Affleckâ€™s major role in â€œJustice League,â€ tracking service still projects the film will earn about $150 million at the U.S. box office during its opening weekend and a total of about $330 million during its domestic run. That total would place â€œJustice Leagueâ€ among the most lucrative films from the Warner Bros.-backed â€œDC Extended Universeâ€ of films, roughly even with Affleckâ€™s 2016 turn in â€œBatman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.â€
â€œOur projection on the title has remained consistent since September. There hasnâ€™t been a noticeable impact in our tracking since this recent Ben Affleck story came out,â€ Daniel Loria, managing editor of BoxOffice Pro, told FOX Business. â€œThis title is being principally marketed as an ensemble superhero film, as opposed to a Ben Affleck movie, so that should be taken into account when looking at the potential impact of the story.â€
Affleck, who is set to reprise his role as Batman in the upcoming film, faced renewed condemnations this week amid the backlash against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. The 45-year-old actor apologized on Wednesday for acting â€œinappropriatelyâ€ toward actress and former MTV VJ Hilarie Burton, who accused Affleck of groping her during an on-camera segment for â€œTotal Request Liveâ€ in the early 2000s.
â€œI acted inappropriately toward Ms. Burton and I sincerely apologize,â€ Affleck said. The apology came not long after Affleck issued a statement condemning Weinstein, who produced Affleckâ€™s star-making turn in the film â€œGood Will Hunting,â€ amid allegations that the producer sexually assaulted several women.
Warner Bros. representatives reiterated that â€œJustice Leagueâ€ will be released as scheduled on November 17 and declined to comment on the allegations against Affleck or how they could impact future â€œDC Universeâ€ film productions. Affleck is also expected to star in a standalone â€œBatmanâ€ film that is currently in the early stages of production.
Aside from Affleck, the ensemble cast for â€œJustice Leagueâ€ includes actress Gal Gadot, whose performance in â€œWonder Womanâ€ received critical acclaim earlier this year, as well as â€œSupermanâ€ star Henry Cavill and former â€œGame of Thronesâ€ actor Jason Momoa, who will play Aquaman.
A poor response from critics and fans to â€œJustice Leagueâ€ could be the biggest threat to the filmâ€™s box office tally, Loria said.
â€œWith â€˜Thor: Ragnarokâ€™ scheduled so closely, Justice League canâ€™t really afford the lukewarm popular response that Batman v. Superman received,â€ he added.