shazam wasn’t the magic word at the weekend box office.
“Shazam: Wrath of Gods” debuted at No. 1 in North America, but the Warner Bros. and DC Comics fell short of expectations with its disappointing $30.5 million opening from 4,071 theaters. Over the weekend, the movie was expected to gross $35 million to $40 million, which already wasn’t that spectacular as it cost over $110 million to make and another $100 million more. for the market.
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That’s a substantial drop from 2019’s “Shazam,” the first comic book installment starring Zachary Levi’s quirky hero, which debuted with $53.5 million and ended its box office run with $140 million domestically and $150 million. 366 million globally. It’s also one of the worst starts for the DC Cinematic Universe, save for pandemic-era releases like “Wonder Woman 1984” ($16.7 million) and “Suicide Squad” ($26 million), which opened simultaneously on HBO Max.
At the international box office, “Shazam 2” raked in $35 million from 77 markets, for a poor global start of $65.5 million.
Criticism and word of mouth may not help “Shazam: Wrath of Gods” next week. It achieved a CinemaScore “B+”, below the “A” grade of the first film. And it holds a 53% on Rotten Tomatoes, a dramatic decline from the original’s 90% average. David F. Sandberg returned to direct “Fury of the Gods,” which centers on Levi’s Billy Batson and his adopted brothers – all of whom turn into superheroes when they say “Shazam!” – as they unite to fight the Daughters of Atlas, who wield a weapon that could destroy the world. Rachel Zegler, Adam Brody, Lucy Liu and Helen Mirren co-star in the film.
“Rage of Gods”, to some extent, also falls victim to DC’s big reboot. It’s the first film to be released since James Gunn and Peter Safran took over the superhero universe and set it in a new direction. While the producers were careful not to absolutely rule out the return of any established DC heroes (other than Henry Cavill as Superman), fans can see the writing on the wall.
At one point, comic book mainstays were untouchable at the box office. But “Shazam 2,” like Disney’s poorly received sequel “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” is starting to show cracks, at least when it comes to subpar adventures. “Ant-Man 3” wowed with its mighty $106 million opening weekend in February, but it crumbled in subsequent weeks and will almost certainly end up as the lowest-grossing installment of the trilogy despite scoring the highest start. DC’s previous standalone adventure, Dwayne Johnson-led “Black Adam,” also massively disappointed in its theatrical run, grossing $392 million worldwide on its $200 million-plus budget.
That’s not to suggest that superhero fatigue has taken over – and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” and Sony’s “Spider-Man: Through the Spider-Verse” look to dominate the summer box office – but point to a future where studios can no longer release any big-budget comic book adaptations in theaters with the expectation it will gross at least less than $500 million globally with ease.
“Until here [in 2023], ‘Ant-Man’ has slowed down after a great start, and ‘Shazam’ is going downhill,” says David A. Gross, who runs film consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “None of the films found an original, creative path to follow; nor did they raise their sets.”
Elsewhere at the box office, Paramount thriller “Scream VI” dropped to second place with $17.5 million from 3,676 North American theaters. Those ticket sales, 61% short of its stellar debut of $41 million, bring the sequel’s domestic take to $76 million after two weeks on the big screen. The horror film grossed over $40 million internationally, bringing its global haul to $116 million.
Michael B. Jordan’s sports drama “Creed III” took third place with $15.3 million from 3,477 locations, down just 44% from the previous weekend. After three weeks of release, the film had generated $127.7 million. The third “Creed” movie has already outperformed its predecessors, as the first film ended up with $109 million and the sequel with $115 million.
Sony’s prehistoric sci-fi thriller “65” took fourth place with $5.8 million from 3,405 theaters, down 54% from its debut. The film, which stars Adam Driver, has grossed $22.4 million to date, which isn’t a great result considering its $45 million budget.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” rounded out the top five with $4.1 million from 2,650 theaters in its fifth weekend of release. So far, it’s generated $205 million in North America, above the original “Ant-Man” ($180 million) and behind the 2018 sequel “Ant-Man and the Wasp” ($216 million). But at $462 million worldwide, ticket sales for “Ant-Man 3” are dramatically below the first film at $519 million and the follow-up film at $622 million.
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