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Why The Flash Bombed At The Box Office

Warning: This article contains spoilers for "The Flash."

After one of the most chaotic and controversial production cycles seen in recent years, "The Flash" is finally in theaters. The superhero flick was released on June 16 in the United States, backed by a hefty budget of $200 million, with an additional $100 million reportedly being spent on marketing.

As of now, according to recent box-office reports by Deadline and Variety, it doesn't look like Warner Bros. will be getting a proper return from "The Flash." In the United States, the film only earned around $55 million during its first three days, and projections for the future are not looking good. Internationally, the movie seems only to have captured around $75 million. Overall, "The Flash" has only made about $139 million thus far, definitely not what studio heads were hoping for.

This may come as an awkward surprise since the film was being touted as one of the best superhero flicks ever made prior to its release, with comparisons to "The Dark Knight" being brought up earlier in the year. Ahead of its release, the movie had several high-profile supporters. Naturally, DCU boss James Gunn had monumental praise for "The Flash." Allegedly, Tom Cruise personally professed how much he loved the film to director Andy Muschietti. 

So what went wrong? Why is "The Flash" stumbling and tripping at the finish line? Well, there's several reasons, some more obvious than others.

Ezra Miller's allegations run far and wide

Simply put, "The Flash" was severely hindered due to the nearly countless allegations against Ezra Miller. With multiple arrests and accusations of assault, allegations of grooming minors, and felony burglary charges, the accounts against the actor appeared endless even before the film entered its promotional phase. Asking even the most ardent comic book fan to get thrilled about a long-awaited superhero flick is a tall order when the main star is constantly making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Of course, Warner Bros. worked hard to shield the film from the immense controversy. Aside from attending the Los Angeles premiere, Miller had next to no involvement in promoting "The Flash." Sasha Calle, who portrayed Supergirl/Kara Zor-El, was a prominent interviewee leading up to the film's release. And, of course, the movie's trailers were quick to put an emphasis on the multiple returning Batmen. "The Flash" featured Ben Affleck donning the cowl once more and also saw Michael Keaton reprise the role for the first time since 1992's "Batman Returns." Even smaller cameos looked like they were getting hyped; Andy Muschietti revealed Nicolas Cage would appear as Superman before the movie was released, though the director later claimed that was a mistake and leak.

As fun as all these appearances and Easter eggs might be for fans, Ezra Miller's name is simply proving to be too cumbersome. Even the nostalgic warmth that Michael Keaton brings is not enough to get fans excited.

The reviews were not stellar

Despite the glowing and well-publicized praise "The Flash" received prior to hitting the silver screen, the movie seems to be getting a lukewarm response from critics, with a score of 66% on Rotten Tomatoes. The audience score was much more positive, sitting at around 85%, and Cinemascore gave the movie a B. Writing for RogerEbert.com, Matt Zoller Seitz gave the film a mixed review, while Looper's own Dominic Griffin also assigned the movie a middling 5/10 rating for his review of "The Flash."

Overall, these certainly aren't the worst scores, especially for a superhero movie. However, a film with the amount of baggage "The Flash" carries needs to be great. It needs to inspire; it needs to drum up endless excitement. In short, "The Flash" needed to border perfect, a near-impossible task for a summer blockbuster. While an average Marvel film might have fared okay with these reviews, "The Flash" most certainly does not have that luxury.

DC's latest outings have left a lot to be desired

For about a decade now, superhero fans have been wary of DC films. While Warner Bros. has proven they can knock it out of the park with some of their properties — "Aquaman," "Wonder Woman," "Shazam," and "The Batman" — their latest films have received little fanfare or worthwhile praise.

 "Black Adam" was released in October 2022, and despite boasting Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and a strong supporting cast, the film faltered at the box office and received little praise from critics. Earlier this year in March, despite the success of its predecessor, "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" was met with dismal box-office earnings, receiving only $133 million on a budget of around $125 million. Reviews for the sequel were not kind, either. On top of this, Warner Bros. didn't exactly inspire hope in fans when they completely axed the HBO Max release of "Batgirl" in 2022. 

Combined with Ezra Miller's numerous controversies and the mediocre reviews toward "The Flash," fans may have found it easy to pass on the Scarlet Speedster's adventure after remembering some of DC's latest cinematic outings.

Yo, Spidey is always going to be stiff competition

"Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse" was released on June 2, and it's continuing an impressive run at the box-office. Variety reported that the movie brought in $27.8 million during its third-weekend run. In total, the sequel to 2018's "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" has reportedly raked in close to $500 million. 

The Webhead is proving to be tough competition for everyone at the box office, not just "The Flash." "Elemental," Disney and Pixar's latest feel-good animated feature, was also released on June 16, and it too is facing some struggles at the box office. With a similar estimated budget of $200 million, the Pixar flick reportedly debuted at only $29.5 million. It looks like "Elemental" and "The Flash" might be on the same leaky boat, and that rascal Miles Morales might be partly to blame.

It'll be interesting to track "The Flash" as it treks through its days in theaters. It still has time to make some type of financial splash. Still, it's not looking good. And judging from all the issues and obstacles it ran into before and during its production and after its release, it's probably not a major shock.