Resurfaced groping allegations against actor Ben Affleck this week created a public relations dilemma for Warner Bros. ahead of the âJustice Leagueâ filmâs November release, but a top box office tracker says the controversy is unlikely to impact the tentpole franchiseâs bottom line.
Despite Affleckâs major role in âJustice 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 âJustice Leagueâ among the most lucrative films from the Warner Bros.-backed âDC Extended Universeâ of films, roughly even with Affleckâs 2016 turn in âBatman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.â
âOur projection on the title has remained consistent since September. There hasnât 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. âThis 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 âinappropriatelyâ toward actress and former MTV VJ Hilarie Burton, who accused Affleck of groping her during an on-camera segment for âTotal Request Liveâ in the early 2000s.
âI 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 Affleckâs star-making turn in the film âGood Will Hunting,â amid allegations that the producer sexually assaulted several women.
Warner Bros. representatives reiterated that âJustice Leagueâ will be released as scheduled on November 17 and declined to comment on the allegations against Affleck or how they could impact future âDC Universeâ film productions. Affleck is also expected to star in a standalone âBatmanâ film that is currently in the early stages of production.
Aside from Affleck, the ensemble cast for âJustice Leagueâ includes actress Gal Gadot, whose performance in âWonder Womanâ received critical acclaim earlier this year, as well as âSupermanâ star Henry Cavill and former âGame of Thronesâ actor Jason Momoa, who will play Aquaman.
A poor response from critics and fans to âJustice Leagueâ could be the biggest threat to the filmâs box office tally, Loria said.
âWith âThor: Ragnarokâ scheduled so closely, Justice League canât really afford the lukewarm popular response that Batman v. Superman received,â he added.