One day, 16 hours, 10 minutes and 0 seconds – that’s how much time Warner Bros. is allowing between the embargo lift on reviews for Justice League and its first public screenings.
And if history tells us anything, that means the most ambitious DC Extended Universe film to-date could also be among its worst-reviewed.
A couple of months ago, we took a look at the relationship between critics’ embargo times and release dates (as well as other studio marketing behavior) and found a striking correlation: When they allow more than two full days for critical consensus to gather, the scores tend to be fresh (above 60%). Anything at two days or less trends toward rotten.
And as you can see in our chart (at the bottom of this post), the scale slides in both directions.
The embargo for Justice League reviews lifts Wednesday, November 15 at 2:50 a.m.
Now, the embargo for Justice League reviews – as well as social-media reactions – lifts on Wednesday, November 15 at 2:50 a.m. ET. The first public screenings will be available at 7 p.m. the following night on the East Coast.
The closest recent comps for that turnaround time – 1-day, 16 hours, 10-minutes – are Monster Trucks (1 day, 19 hours, 32% on Rotten Tomatoes), Snatched (1 day, 19 hours, 35%) and A Dog’s Purpose (1 day, 21 hours, 30 minutes, 30%).
Not a great sign.
But the most telling stat here might be the lack of a first-wave of social-media reactions. Big studios, including Warners, have lately been showing their blockbusters to smaller groups of curated movies writers and critics, giving them a separate, earlier window to tweet reactions.
Case in point: DC’s own Wonder Woman, which allowed social-media posts a whopping 13 days, 21 hours ahead of the critics’ embargo. They were over the moon – and kicked off a wave of positivity that carried Wonder Woman to a 92% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Predicted result: 33% on Rotten Tomatoes for Justice League
Without a social-media lift, and with that stingy embargo-to-release turnaround time, it looks like Justice League may hew closer to its direct antecedent, the critically razed Batman v Superman, which ultimately came in at 27% (rotten). (BvS was given a lead-time of two days, 4 hours – a little more generous than Justice League, but still in that rotten zone.)
Also not boding well here: That 2:50 a.m. ET posting time. No confident studio lifts its critics’ embargo in the middle of the night.
Justice League has a few things going for it, though – early word is that the film successfully melds Joss Whedon’s story beats and dialogue with the stylings and action of Zack Snyder (who was asked to hand over the reins after studio execs saw an early cut). Ezra Miller’s first full appearance as The Flash is testing very well. And of course, this will be the DCEU’s first film featuring Wonder Woman since the extraordinarily well-received Wonder Woman.
But those factors can only help so much. Reading all these tea leaves, I’d say Justice League comes in with a lot of reviews along the lines of “elements good/movie bad,” the likes of which tend to skew rotten.
Predicted result: 33% on Rotten Tomatoes for Justice League, putting it just above Suicide Squad (26%) and BvS (27%) but well below Man of Steel (55%) and Wonder Woman (92%).
And if you think that’s being too generous – or maybe too harsh, for many of you DC stans – well, then we’ll just let history guide you: