LOS ANGELES - Warner Bros.-DC's costly "Justice League" has dominated the North American box office but fallen well short of expectations with a $96 million opening weekend at 4,051 locations.It's a decidedly gloomy result for the tentpole, which had been forecast by the studio just prior to the weekend to open in the $110 million range. Instead, "Justice League" is launching with only the eighth largest opening of 2017. It's not even in the top 50 domestic openings of all time, ranking 53rd behind "Fast and Furious 6.""For every macro budget superhero movie the stakes are incredibly high and with that comes an enormous pressure to exceed all expectations and for DC, this has never been more true," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore. "In the wake of the much-needed home run that was 'Wonder Woman,' the momentum was with the brand and great expectations placed on the very broad shoulders of 'Justice League' to keep that train moving."Dergarabedian noted that the movie will gross $285 million worldwide this weekend and that initial reception among audiences is positive. The overall CinemaScore was B+ with males comprising 58% of the audience while females gave the movie an A-, as did moviegoers under 25."With the rightfully heightened expectations for a movie of this magnitude comes a greater scrutiny of both the quality of the movie as determined by critics and of course the profitability of the film, but the ultimate arbiter are moviegoers who seem to have found the concept and the event nature of the film enough to them out to the movie theater even if the overall North American opening weekend number may be less than many expected," Dergarabedian said."Justice League" had been on track for an opening weekend of $110 million since late October. Stakes are particularly high for Warner Bros., which hasn't revealed the cost of "Justice League" -- estimated to be as much as $300 million. The movie is the fifth installment of its DC Extended Universe, aimed at duplicating the success of Disney-Marvel's interconnected franchises. And it's by far the lowest launch, trailing "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" ($166 million); "Suicide Squad" ($133 million); "Man of Steel" ($116 million); and "Wonder Woman" ($103 million).