Shazam It wasn’t the magic word at the weekend box office.
“Shazam: Fury of the Gods” opened to No. 1 in North America, but the Warner Bros. sequel opened to No. 1 in North America. And DC Comics fell short of expectations with a disappointing $30.5 million debut from 4,071 theaters. Heading into the weekend, the film was expected to gross between $35 million and $40 million, which wasn’t already amazing since it cost $110 million to make and another 100 million to market.
It’s a significant drop from 2019’s “Shazam,” the first comic book sequel starring the quirky hero Zachary Levi, which opened at $53.5 million and finished at the box office with $140 million domestically and $366 million globally. It’s also one of the worst debuts in the DC Cinematic Universe, other than pandemic-era releases like “Wonder Woman 1984” ($16.7 million) and “The Suicide Squad” ($26 million), both of which opened simultaneously on HBO Max.
At the international box office, “Shazam 2” added $35 million from 77 markets to a dismal global start of $65.5 million.
Comments and word of mouth may not help “Shazam: Fury of the Gods” next week. It landed a “B+” CinemaScore, down from the film’s first “A” score. It holds a 53% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is a significant drop from the original’s 90% average. David F. Sandberg is back to direct Fury of the Gods, which centers on Levi’s Billy Batson and his adoptive brothers – all of whom are transformed into superheroes when they say “Shazam!” – where they team up to fight against the daughters of Atlas, who are wielding a weapon that can destroy the world. The film stars Rachel Ziegler, Adam Brody, Lucy Liu, and Helen Mirren.
“Wrath of the Gods,” in a sense, is also a casualty of DC’s big reset. It’s the first movie to be released since James Gunn and Peter Safran took the superhero world and set it in a whole new direction. Although the producers made sure not to rule out the return of any established DC superhero (with the exception of Henry Cavill as Superman), fans can see the writing on the wall.
At one point, comic book pillars were untouchable at the box office. But “Shazam 2,” as well as Disney’s poorly received Marvel sequel “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” are beginning to reveal cracks, at least when it comes to subpar adventures. Ant Man 3 impressed with its impressive $106 million opening weekend in February but fell apart in subsequent weeks, almost certainly to end up as the lowest installment in the trilogy despite scoring the biggest start. DC’s former standalone adventure Black Adam, helmed by Dwayne Johnson, was a huge disappointment in its theatrical run, grossing $392 million worldwide on its $200 million-plus budget.
This isn’t to say that superhero fatigue has dominated — and Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” and Sony’s “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” are looking to dominate the summer box office — but it does point to a future in which it can’t. Studios anymore release any big budget comic book in theaters with expectations that it will easily make at least $500 million worldwide.
Until now [in 2023], “Ant-Man” has slowed down after a stellar start, and “Shazam” is on the decline,” says David A. Gross, who runs film consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. They haven’t lifted their chain.”
Elsewhere at the box office, Paramount’s thriller “Scream VI” slipped to second place with $17.5 million from 3,676 North American cinemas. Those ticket sales, which fell 61% from its stellar $41 million debut, fell to $76 million after two weeks on the big screen. The horror film added another $40 million internationally, bringing its worldwide tally to $116 million.
Michael B. Jordan’s sports drama “Creed 3” finished third with $15.3 million from 3,477 locations, down just 44% from its previous weekend. Three weeks after its release, the film had grossed $127.7 million. Already, the third “Creed” movie has outperformed its predecessors with the first film ending its run with $109 million and its sequel with $115 million.
Sony’s sci-fi thriller “65” was fourth with $5.8 million from 3,405 theaters, which is a 54% drop from its debut. The movie, which stars Adam Driver, has made $22.4 million so far, which isn’t a great result considering the $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. It has so far grossed $205 million in North America, above the original “Ant-Man” ($180 million) and behind 2018’s sequel “Ant-Man and the Wasp” ($216 million). But with $462 million worldwide, “Ant-Man 3” ticket sales are well below the first film’s $519 million and the follow-up’s $622 million.
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