The Flash Becomes Worst Box Office Flop In Superhero Movie History

By Klein Felt Posted:
The Flash Ezra Miller DC

After three weeks in theaters, Warner Bros.' The Flash has become the worst box office flop in superhero movie history.

Ezra Miller's Mulitversal epic is finally in theaters following years of production troubles, controversies, and even a delay or two

And despite being called "the kind of movie we need now" and "one of the best superhero movies [ever]" by the likes of Hollywood greats like Tom Cruise and DC Studios head James Gunn, the movie has not had the legs the Warner Bros. may have thought it would. 

The film has floundered financially, suffering the worst drop in box office returns from first to second week in DC history (72.5%) after an already disappointing opening weekend

The Flash Makes the Worst Kind of History

The Flash Movie, Supergirl, Batman

Given The Flash's paltry box office numbers, the Andy Muschetti-directed DC film has earned the title of the biggest box office flop in superhero movie history. 

Because of The Flash's reported $220 million budget (and $150 million promotional budget), the movie is likely set to lose over $200M for Warner Bros. which would be the biggest financial loss suffered by a studio because of a superhero film.

Ezra Miller's long-gestating DC solo outing earned a meager $5.23 million in its third weekend in theaters, bringing its domestic total to a lean $99 million. 

Much was written about the movie's box office shortcomings after its more than 70% drop from its first-to-second weekend, but this third-week number means the film was hit with another 62.5% drop in revenue from its already dismal second-week total. 

To put it into perspective, even big-budget films that were released during the height of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic like Wonder Woman 1984 (which lost more than $100 million) did not fare as poorly as The Flash did comparatively. 

The Flash dethrones Warner's previous DC movie Shazam! Fury of the Gods for this infelicitous crown, a film that lost an estimated $150 million after making a meager $57.6 million at the domestic box office.

The top 10 biggest superhero box office flops (not adjusted for inflation) list looks as follows:

  1. The Flash - $200 million (estimated)
  2. Shazam! Fury of the Gods - $150 million (estimated)
  3. Wonder Woman 1984 - $137 million
  4. Dark Phoenix - $133 million
  5. The Suicide Squad - $130 million
  6. Black Adam - $100 million
  7. Fantastic Four - $100 million
  8. R.I.P.D - $92 million
  9. The New Mutants - $84 million
  10. Green Lantern - $75 million

What The Flash's Box Office Means for DC

To say The Flash has missed the mark for Warner Bros. (WB) and DC would be an understatement. The film (along with its direct DC predecessor Shazam 2) could very well have done irreparable damage to the super-powered brand. 

Yes, Warner had to release Ezra Miller's movie at some point, having been working on it in this form since 2019. It was a sunk cost, and they could not just cancel it. 

However, putting the money into it that was (especially on the promotional side) feels almost irresponsible. There had to have been internal indicators telling the studio this sort of financial return was coming, no matter how many Hollywood bigwigs came out in support of the movie

Ever since the announcement that James Gunn and Peter Safran would be taking over the DCU and pushing in a new era, momentum on the franchise has been slowing down. So, the indicators were there.

If the writing was on the wall, maybe a reevaluation of strategy could have been in line going into the release of the movie. 

While comments from some box office experts saying WB would've "lost less money releasing [The Flash] on Max or not releasing it at all" may be a little extreme, there had to have been a happy medium between what Warner did with their Multiversal flop and straight-to-streaming. 

And with two more DC movies still to debut before the Gunn/Safran in Blue Beetle and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, the downward spiral seems primed to continue for the franchise - at least from a financial perspective. 

One can only hope that one (or both) of those two remaining movies is at least good, and the blue brand can start to pick back up steam with the release of 2025's Superman: Legacy.  

The Flash is playing in theaters worldwide now. 

- In This Article: The Flash
Release Date
June 16, 2023
- About The Author: Klein Felt
Klein Felt is a Senior Editor at The Direct. Joining the website back in 2020, he helped jumpstart video game content on The Direct. Klein plays a vital role as a part of the site's content team, demonstrating expertise in all things PlayStation, Marvel, and the greater entertainment industry.