‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ Dominates Disc Sales

Zack Snyder’s Justice League easily took the top spot on both the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart the week ended Sept. 11.

The four-hour director’s cut of the 2017 superhero team-up Justice League, distributed by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, outsold the No. 2 title by a 5-to-1 margin.

Snyder’s re-edited and extended version of the DC Comics adaptation, which he couldn’t finish in 2017, serves as the sequel to his 2013 film Man of Steel and its 2016 follow-up Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and was first released on the HBO Max streaming service in March.

Blu-ray Disc formats accounted for 75% of Zack Snyder’s Justice League first-week unit sales, with 38% of its total tally coming specifically from 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray (meaning 37% was regular Blu-ray and 25% was DVD).

A trilogy collection of all three of Snyder’s DC films was No. 14 on the Blu-ray Disc chart.

The previous week’s top overall disc seller, Warner’s The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, dropped to No. 2 on the overall chart. The third “Conjuring” movie was down one spot on the Blu-ray Disc chart to No. 4.

Lionsgate’s Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard was the No. 3 overall disc seller and the No. 2 Blu-ray.

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The No. 2 Blu-ray was Universal Pictures’ 1982 sci-fi horror movie The Thing, from director John Carpenter, which got a boost from a new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition. It was the No. 10 overall disc seller, with 95% of its total unit sales coming from the new 4K edition (3% of its total was from the regular Blu-ray).

The No. 4 overall disc, and No. 6 Blu-ray, was DreamWorks Animation’s Spirit Untamed, from Universal Pictures.

Sony Pictures’ Peter Rabbit 2 was No. 2 on the overall disc chart, and No. 7 on the Blu-ray chart.

The No. 5 Blu-ray Disc seller was Warner’s direct-to-video animated movie Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms, which had been the top Blu-ray the previous week. It dropped five spots to No. 11 overall.

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The Media Play News rental chart the week ended Sept. 12 had Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard at No. 1 for the fourth straight week, with Peter Rabbit 2 repeating at No. 2, and Conjuring 3 holding at No. 3.

The No. 4 and No. 5 rentals were a pair of newly released crime thrillers, Lionsgate’s The Gateway and Quiver’s The Girl Who Got Away, respectively.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 9-11-21
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 9-12-21
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 9-11-21
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 9-11-21

Justice Society: World War II

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 5/11/21;
Warner;
Animated;
$29.98 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence and some bloody images.
Voices of Stana Katic, Matt Bomer, Omid Abtahi, Geoffrey Arend, Chris Diamantopoulos, Matthew Mercer, Liam McIntyre, Elysia Rotaru, Armen Taylor, Darren Criss.

The plot mechanics that presumably served as the jumping off point for Justice Society: World War II ultimately cause the latest DC Universe animated movie to struggle to become a satisfying standalone adventure.

The film starts off in modern times, with Barry Allen (Matt Bomer) interrupting a picnic with his girlfriend to become the Flash and help Superman hold off an attempt by Brainiac to invade Metropolis. The battle ends up opening a rift that sends the Flash to World War II, where he encounters the Justice Society of America, the team of the greatest superheroes of that era (known in comic book lingo as the Golden Age).

They are led by the ageless Wonder Woman (Stana Katic, effectively laying on her best Gal Gadot accent). But the team also includes the Golden Age version of the Flash, Jay Garrick (Armen Taylor), allowing the iconic speedsters of two eras to meet each other.

As Barry works to figure out how to get home, he agrees to help the JSA on their mission, which involves stopping Hitler from collecting mystical artifacts (a nice nod to Indiana Jones), and leads them to uncover a Nazi plot involving the undersea kingdom of Atlantis, ruled by Aquaman (Liam McIntyre).

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The film is loaded with some great animated action sequences, nice character dynamics and some intriguing plot twists. But what could have been a good period piece about Golden Age comic book characters during WWII gets sidetracked by the question of why the future Flash had to be involved for the story to work.

Turns out there are a couple of reasons for it, and it has more to do with franchise building and comic book history than servicing the story (or, at the very least, the story that they appear to be telling).

Based on a half-hour roundtable with the filmmakers included on the Blu-ray, the genesis for the film seems to be adapting the classic 1961 comic book story called “Flash of Two Worlds,” which is generally credited with establishing the idea of a comic book multiverse. That story, by Flash creator Gardner Fox, was a fun, meta examination of the nature of comic book storytelling. A number of characters from the Golden Age (roughly the 1940s through the mid 1950s) had been either retired or redesigned heading into the Silver Age (mid-1950s through the 1960s). The Flash was one of the ones redesigned for a new audience, switching from the maskless, helmeted Jay Garrick to the red-suited Barry Allen we still know today. “Flash of Two Worlds” saw Barry Allen’s Flash cross into the dimension where Garrick had been the Flash 20 years earlier, putting the two on an adventure together. The multiverse was significant in that it freed writers from adhering to established continuity when it no longer made sense due to the passage of time (e.g., Superman and Batman supposedly being the same age in the 1960s as they were when they were created in the 1930s), while allowing them to honor the legacies of characters from the eras in which they were introduced.

So, building a version of “Flash of Two Worlds” into a movie then begins with the concept of sending Barry Allen into Jay Garrick’s time. Which then requires the filmmakers to develop Garrick and his era.

The other factor that seems to have influenced this movie is that it’s apparently set in the same continuity as 2020’s Superman: Man of Tomorrow. The animation styles are similar and Darren Criss voices Superman in both movies. So, that makes the two films an early attempt to establish a new DC shared animated universe, and uses the story of Barry Allen meeting the JSA to inspire him to help build the team of modern heroes that will be known as the Justice League for future movies.

Otherwise, the Golden Age trappings are just a great excuse to either revisit characters that don’t get as much screentime anymore, or look at familiar characters through a different lens.

This just leads back to the idea of the JSA fighting Nazis being a strong enough premise on its own without the Flash framing device pulling focus from it. Of course, time will tell if future movies pay off some of the story threads introduced here in a way that reframes how this particular movie ends up being perceived.

The filmmaker roundtable is a fun watch and a nice departure from the usual talking-heads featurettes usually included with the DC animation Blu-rays. The format provides for a fun conversation about exploring different superheroes and bringing their stories to life through animation in a way that both satisfies the curiosities of the writer and entertains the audience.

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The Blu-ray also includes the two-part “Legends” episode of the “Justice League” animated series which tells the same basic story — the Flash and some other Justice League team members are sent to an alternate dimension where they encounter another superhero team that is eerily similar to yet slightly different from their own.

The other notable inclusion on the Blu-ray is the 18-minute animated short film Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth. This is a fun adventure set in an apocalyptic future that begins with some clever nods to Planet of the Apes. Kamandi is a teenager trying to survive in a world in which humans are gone and animals have evolved into walking, talking tribes. A clan of apes captures Kamandi and some of this friends and subjects them to a series of tests, hoping to find the reincarnation of the great warrior who shaped the world after the fall of society. Kamandi’s backstory (created by the legendary Jack Kirby) and the world of humanoid animals give the short the feeling of a classic 1980s Saturday morning cartoon.

Rounding out the extras are previews for other DC animated movies, including the upcoming Batman: The Long Halloween.

Warner Bros.’ ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ Available Worldwide in All Markets on March 18

WarnerMedia Feb. 19 announced that Warner Bros. Pictures’ pending release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League will be available globally in all markets concurrently with its U.S. March 18 debut on HBO Max.

The feature film will be available in each market via one of the following distribution options: PVOD, PEST, EST, SVOD, TVOD, HBO linear and on HBO Go (in HBO Europe and HBO Asia territories), or via a local TV provider.

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The movie features a team of well-known DC superheroes: Batman (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) inspired by Superman (Henry Cavill) and his ally, Diana Prince (Gadot), to fight a new global threat. The 2017 movie, which was finished by director Joss Whedon after Snyder dropped out due to his daughter’s reported suicide, generated $657 million at the global box office.

HBO Max Bows ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ Trailer

HBO Max Feb. 13 unveiled the official trailer for Warner Bros.’ pending (March 18) release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League DC superhero movie. The movie features a team of well-known DC superheroes: Batman (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and The Flash (Ezra Miller), inspired by Superman (Henry Cavill), to fight a new global threat. The movie, which was originally finished by director Joss Whedon after Snyder dropped out due to his daughter’s suicide, generated $657 million at the global box office.

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Cult fans of the franchise contended Whedon’s take on the movie was different than the tone established by Snyder in precursor films Man of Steel (2013) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). With fans clamoring to see Snyder’s intended version of the film, WarnerMedia jumped at the marketing opportunity.

WarnerMedia also bowed a dedicated microsite with the latest news, trailers and activities around the movie.

Director Zack Snyder’s ‘Justice League’ Movie Cut Streaming on HBO Max March 18

HBO Max will stream director Zack Snyder’s highly-anticipated personal cut of 2017 DC Comics superhero movie Justice League beginning March 18, according to WarnerMedia, which announced the release date Jan. 29.

Justice League features a team of well-known DC superheroes: Batman (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) inspired by Superman (Henry Cavill) and his ally, Diana Prince (Gadot), to fight a new global threat. The movie, which was finished by Joss Whedon after Snyder dropped out due to his daughter’s reported suicide, generated $657 million at the global box office.

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Cult fans of the franchise contended Whedon’s take on the superhero ensemble was different in tone than Snyder’s original. When speculation of a “Snyder Cut” of the movie emerged, WarnerMedia jumped at the marketing opportunity.

“I just was kind of done with [the movie],” Snyder told CinemaBlend. “I was in this place of [knowing] my family needs me more than this bullshit, and I just need to honor them and do the best I can to heal that world. I had no energy to fight [the studio], and fight for [the movie]. Literally, zero energy for that.”

Dubbed Zack Snyder’s Justice League, the new cut will be rated ‘R’ and run as a four-hour movie. When announced last year Snyder originally said it would be presented in four hourlong installments.

Concurrently with the premiere on Max in the U.S., the movie will be available on HBO services in Europe across the Nordics, Central Europe, Spain, and Portugal as well as on the HBO GO service in Asia. In Latin America, the title will premiere exclusively on HBO Max when the service launches in the region later this year.

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Warner;
Animated;
$24.98 Blu-ray; $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for bloody violence, language and some sexual references.
Voices of Matt Ryan, Jerry O’Connell, Jason O’Mara, Taissa Farmiga, Stuart Allan, Tony Todd, Rosario Dawson, Shemar Moore, Christopher Gorham, Rebecca Romijn, Rainn Wilson.

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is among the most brutal superhero movies and animated movies one is likely to encounter.

The film is the 15th and final chapter of the DC Animated Movie Universe, a series of direct-to-video films that started in 2013 with a string of ‘PG-13’ adventures and gradually pushed the envelope into ‘R’-rated territory. This film earns its rating, with multiple scenes of superheroes being dismembered and torn in half.

The film begins with Superman (Jerry O’Connell) urging the Justice League to attack the planet Apokolips to end the threat of Darkseid, who has attempted several invasions of Earth throughout these movies. However, the battle is a disaster for the heroes, who are nearly all slaughtered, with many being turned into cyborg minions of Darkseid’s army.

Cut to two years later, and Darkseid’s forces have conquered Earth and are sucking minerals from the planet’s core. Superman, depowered due to kryptonite poisoning, recruits the few remaining heroes, as well as Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad, on a desperate mission to divide the armies of Apokolips so they have a chance to kill Darkseid.

Key to the plan are John Constantine (Matt Ryan), the practitioner of the dark arts whose magics are needed in the final battle, and Damian Wayne (Stuart Allan), the son of Batman (Jason O’Mara), who has been brainwashed into serving as Darkseid’s chief tactician.

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The filmmakers have pulled out all the stops for this one, producing an animated equivalent of Avengers: Endgame for the DC Comics characters. The film manages to involve nearly every character who ever played a part in one of the movies of the series, even if it’s just a small background cameo.

One of the key strengths of the film is how it serves both as a fitting conclusion to the 15-movie cycle while also working effectively well as a standalone adventure. The extreme circumstances the heroes find themselves in almost qualify the movie as an Elseworlds alternate reality tale, which adds to the fun.

It also helps that the premise gives a lot of the franchise’s quirky breakthrough characters to shine, with Matt Ryan’s Constantine (a role he also plays in live action on “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow”) is practically an institution at this point, and always a sure bet to carry the story to where it needs to go.

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The Blu-ray includes a good commentary track with executive producer James Tucker, directors Matt Peters and Christina Sotta, and screenwriter Ernie Altbacker.

The disc also includes a good 15-minute featurette about the comic book history of Darkseid, plus a few bonus cartoons.

There are also previews for other DC Universe animated movies, including the upcoming Superman: Man of Tomorrow.

The Blu-ray also includes the 16-minute animated short film DC Showcase: Adam Strange, a gritty mini tale for the classic character (voiced by Charlie Weber) who finds himself trapped on a mining colony after his homeworld is invaded. Unable to return to his family and unaware of their fate, he finds himself scorned as a drunk, but must rise to defend the people who would cast him aside when they are attacked by a horde of deadly insects. It’s a decent update to the character.

Justice League vs. The Fatal Five

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 4/16/19;
Warner;
Animated;
$24.98 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of sci-fi violence, some bloody images, language and partial nudity.
Voices of Elyes Gabel, Diane Guerrero, Kevin Conroy, Susan Eisenberg, George Newbern, Daniela Bobadilla, Kevin Michael Richardson, Rom Kenny, Sumalee Montano, Philip Anthony-Rodriguez.

At first glance, Justice League vs. The Fatal Five would seem to be a return to the world of the “Justice League Unlimited” animated series, with the voice casting of Kevin Conroy, Susan Eisenberg and George Newbern as Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman respectively.

The film’s aesthetic is based on the series and even the music returns to some of the iconic themes from the show.

The movie’s place in canon is the subject of a discussion in the commentary track, which acknowledges that some continuity issues with the series would have to be dealt with, but that enough time has passed since the final episode to allow for some adjustments if viewers want to make that connection. The decision to use the “JLU” style mostly came down to budgetary constraints, as they didn’t have time to create a new style to differentiate the film from DC Universe animated movie series that share their own continuity, of which this is not a part. Sharp-eyed viewers may notice the movie borrows design elements from other previous DC animated works, such as the “Green Lantern” animated series.

Whatever the case, the movie isn’t written to depend on a connection with a previous work, and is certainly entertaining enough to stand on its own. The movie offers some nice action and a few unexpected surprises, both in terms of references to comic book lore and some genuine laughs stemming from the characters and dialogue. It is a bit harder edge than the “JLU” series as well.

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The story involves the 31st century super team The Legion of Super-Heroes battling three members of the villainous Fatal Five, who want to steal a time machine to go to the 21st century to free the other two members of their team from a prison.

The villains end up making it past the Legion’s defenses, but not before Star Boy (Elyes Gabel) hitches a ride back with them in an effort to stop them.

The wrinkle to Star Boy’s plan is that he requires medicine to maintain his mental stability, and without it he comes across as unhinged to the authorities, who put him in Arkham Asylum.

However, the Justice League uncovers his true identity and recruits him in their effort to stop the Five, whose plan is to kidnap a Green Lantern so they can access the prison to free the two trapped members of their team.

The Green Lantern in this case is Jessica Cruz (Diane Guerrero), who is dealing with anxiety over the stress of being a superhero.

The common bond of mental disorder unites Cruz and Star Boy, as they must learn to overcome their illnesses to become the heroes they need to be.

An eight-minute “Battling the Invisible Menace” featurette further explores the topic of mental illness and its role in the story.

Another featurette, the 15-minute “Unity of a Hero,” focuses on the diversity of characters depicted in the film.

The disc also includes a couple of episodes from previous DC animated series with similar storylines, and a nine-minute preview of the next DC Universe animated movie, Hush, an adaptation of a Batman comic book storyline.

Aquaman

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 3/26/19;
Warner;
Action;
Box Office $334.52 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for language.
Stars Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Ludi Lin, Nicole Kidman, Temuera Morrison.

It’s a bit amazing to think that the Justice League member so often derided as “the one who talks to fish and is useless on land” is now the subject of the highest-grossing movie based on a DC Comics character at the worldwide box office.

Already a regular target of parody shows such as “Robot Chicken,” the Aquaman character was famously used as the centerpiece of a storyline on HBO’s “Entourage” involving a blockbuster movie version directed by James Cameron — poking fun at both Cameron’s penchant for water movies and the idea that anyone would ever make an Aquaman movie.

Well, the real film, directed by James Wan, certainly dispels any notion that Aquaman isn’t suited for the big screen. Coincidentally, with this film and Furious 7, Wan became the only director other than Cameron (with Avatar and Titanic) to guide two films from separate franchises into the global box office’s billion-dollar club.

Jason Momoa takes on the title role, his third film appearing as the character, after a cameo in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and an expanded presence in Justice League. His larger-than-life persona and carefree attitude serve the film well by helping the audience accept the bizarreness of the worlds being created without the need to take it too seriously.

Arthur Curry (Momoa) is the product of the unexpected love of a lighthouse keeper (Temuera Morrison) and the Queen of Atlantis (Nicole Kidman) who ends up at his shore when she escapes an arranged marriage. Arthur’s unique heritage gives him superhuman abilities, such as strength, invulnerability, the ability to swim fast and a telepathic bond with sea creatures.

With his reputation as a hero established in Justice League, Arthur is sought out by the princess Mera (Amber Heard) to claim the throne of Atlantis from his half-brother (Patrick Wilson), who wants to destroy the surface world.

To do that, he and Mera must embark on a quest to locate a mythical weapon that will allow him to assert his claim as the rightful king of Atlantis.

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The story will draw a lot of comparisons with Black Panther in that both deal with heroes introduced in earlier films, with their own films focused on tying their origins into storylines involving taking control of their hidden kingdoms away from maniacal family members who want to conquer the outside world. Tonally, the film is more like Thor: Ragnarok, which also deals with a battle for the throne of a powerful kingdom. These recent superhero movies have certainly embraced that Shakespearean power dynamics motif lately (which may just speak to how most comic books can be reduced to a few fundamental tropes before all the personality and detail that makes them popular are added).

Aquaman

Between the “Game of Thrones”-esque political intrigue and “Indiana Jones”-style adventure subplot, much of the film’s success owes to its sense of fun and its willingness to depict absolutely anything on screen despite how absurd it is while treating it as epic. Wan fills almost every frame with fantastic imagery awash in vibrant color that really shines through in its high-definition Blu-ray presentation. Many of the scenes look as if Wan pulled them directly from a comic book, and even makes Aquaman’s traditional orange and green costume look cool, which should no doubt please fans of the character.

The Blu-ray includes more than an hour-and-a-half of featurettes detailing all the aspects of the production, from Momoa’s casting, to the stunt work, to the development of the depictions of the undersea kingdoms that comprise the Atlantean realms.

One of the more interesting videos in this regard is the “Kingdoms of the Seven Seas,” a profile of underwater politics hosted by Dolph Lundgren, who plays the ruler of one of them. Between this and his recent turn in a “Rocky” retrospective on the Creed II Blu-ray, Lundgren has been pretty busy on the Warner lot hosting bonus videos.

Another interesting tidbit comes during an analysis of the film’s memorable sequence involving the devolved creatures of the Trench, which plays to Wan’s horror roots. At one point, an excited Wan suggests the Trench should be the basis of its own movie. Unsurprisingly, a Trench spinoff has already been announced.

Finally, the disc includes a three-minute scene from the upcoming Shazam! movie.

‘Justice League’ Comes Together Atop Home Video Sales Charts

Warner’s Justice League led a slew of newcomers that debuted in the top 20 of the national home video sales charts the week ended March 17.

The superhero team-up adventure, which earned $229 million at the domestic box office, came in at No. 1 on both the NPD VideoScan First Alert sales chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc chart.

Slipping to No. 2 on both charts was the previous week’s top seller, Disney’s Thor: Ragnarok, which in its second week sold 44% as many discs as Justice League‘s first week.

Debuting at No. 3 on both charts was Fox’s animated Ferdinand, which earned $83.8 million in U.S. theaters.

Disney’s Coco dropped to No. 4 on both charts in its third week.

Rounding out the top five on both charts was the newly minted Oscar Best Picture winner, Fox’s The Shape of Water.

Other newcomers in the top 10 included Sony Pictures’ Call Me By Your Name at No. 7 overall (No. 6 on the Blu-ray chart), and Universal’s Tonya Harding biopic I, Tonya at No. 8 overall (No. 7 on the Blu-ray chart).

Lionsgate’s The Disaster Artist, a comedic re-creation of the making of notoriously bad film The Room, debuted at No. 11 overall and tenth on the Blu-ray chart.

Blu-ray Disc accounted for 70% of total sales for Justice League, which had 12% of its unit tally from 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Among the other newcomers, Blu-ray accounted for 59% of Ferdinand unit sales, 66% for The Shape of Water, 55% for Call Me By Your Name, 58% for I, Tonya, and 73% for Disaster Artist.

On the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended March 18, Thor: Ragnarok took over the top spot in its second week, pushing Coco to No. 2.

I, Tonya debuted at No. 3, followed by Fox’s Murder on the Orient Express remake at No. 4 and Paramount’s Daddy’s Home 2 at No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 03-17-18
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 03-18-18
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 03-17-18
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 03-17-18
Sales Report for Week Ended 03-17-18

‘Justice League’ Light Show at SXSW

To promote the March 13 Blu-ray release of Justice League, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment created an interactive light display at SXSW within DC’s comic book pop-up shop and Superhero experience. The activation included an interactive sidewalk and holograms that activated with scenes from the movie and corresponding Superhero logos from all six members of the Justice League.

In addition, the nights of Friday, March 9, and Saturday, March 10, the SXSW X DC Experience featured the performance art of Laserman, as the Italian dancer and his partner performed inside a pair of 12-foot crystal spheres and engaged in a choreographed laser-enhanced performance to the Justice League music of Danny Elfman.