The Flash to Become Worst Box Office Flop in Studio History

By David Thompson Updated:
The Flash with Warner Bros logo

Andy Muschietti's The Flash is currently projected to become Warner Bros.' biggest flop in studio history.

Following an overwhelmingly positive word-of-mouth marketing campaign, fueled by comments from actor Tom Cruise, author Stephen King, and DC Studios co-CEO James Gunn, The Flash is bombing at the domestic and global box office.

Starring Ezra Miller, Michael Keaton, and Sasha Calle, Warner Bros.' (WB) latest DC film earned less than $100 million at the domestic box office to date.

Stumbling into its third weekend, The Flash is losing 1,538 North American movie theaters, making the chance for a miraculous recovery even lower.

The Flash May Become Warner Bros' Greatest Failure

Flash, Justice League

Box office analyst Luiz Fernando recently observed that if The Flash's poor performance keeps up, it will lead the film to lose Warner Bros. more than $200 million.

Fernando mentioned that The Flash's hefty $150 promotional budget may not even be recouped by box office earnings, and WB would've "lost less money releasing it on Max or not releasing it at all."

So where would this stack up against other massive Warner Bros. flops of the past?

Due to the global pandemic and WB's decision to release all of its films day-and-date in theaters and on HBO Max, several recent films have been big losers for the studio.

Directly impacted by COVID-19, Wonder Woman 1984 lost an estimated $137 million while its DC counterpart, The Suicide Squad (which was met with great critical reception), lost $120 million.

Two other recent flops (day-and-date releases) were The Matrix Resurrections, starring Keanu Reeves, and LeBron James' Space Jam: A New Legacy remake. The former lost $130 million while the latter vanished $111 million for WB.

Warner Bros. also suffered a couple of pre-pandemic flops during the 2010s. 2017's King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, starring Charlie Hunnam, lost the studio approximately $153.2 million after earning less than $149 million worldwide.

The epic space failure starring Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis, Jupiter Ascending, lost WB roughly $120 million, earning a bleak $47.4 million domestically ($183.9 million total worldwide).

For comparison's sake, The Flash would be a crushing loss for WB, a historic failure (even when adjusted for inflation) akin to Disney's John Carter catastrophe.

Not adjusting for inflation, here's a better look at how The Flash's potential loss would stack up against other WB flops:

  • The Flash - $200 million (estimated)
  • King Arthur: Legend of the Sword - $153.2 million
  • Wonder Woman 1984 - $137 million
  • The Matrix Resurrections - $130 million
  • Jupiter Ascending - $120 million
  • The Suicide Squad - $120 million
  • Space Jam: A New Legacy - $111 million

This is a painful reality for a company that was confident this would be a hit after two lukewarm performances by Black Adam and Shazam! Fury of the Gods.

Will Blue Beetle & Aquaman 2 Release in Theaters?

Typically, earth-shaking box office failures aren't brushed off by studio executives. This is the studio that put Batgirl on ice in order to save money, so now, the attention turns to Blue Beetle and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.

These are the last two DC films of 2023 and the final WB superhero flicks greenlit by the past regime.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will hit theaters five years following its massive $1 billion 2018 hit starring Jason Momoa.

Releasing Aquaman 2 directly to Max or scrapping it entirely is a farfetched idea; there's still likely some audience for this, one bigger than The Flash's, WB hopes.

Blue Beetle, however, has been on a completely different course to theatrical release. Originally meant for a direct-to-streaming release, the origin story starring Xolo Maridueña may need to revert to plan A.

A wide release is expensive not only to play in theaters across the globe but the marketing dollars spent so audiences know of the movie's release.

The Flash's marketing budget was treated as if it was going to be one of 2023's summer smash hits. WB can't afford to pour any more money into Blue Beetle, a complete unknown that will need incredibly positive word-of-mouth to perform admirably at the August box office.

DC fans may just need a reset, which they're getting on July 11, 2025 when Superman: Legacy, starring David Corenswet and Rachel Brosnahan, hits theaters.

The Flash is currently playing in theaters.

- In This Article: The Flash
Release Date
June 16, 2023
- About The Author: David Thompson
As an editor, writer, and podcast host, David is a key member of The Direct. He is an expert at covering topics like Marvel, DC, Star Wars, and business-related news following the box office and streaming.