Superhero Sequel Stumbles in Opening Weekend – Variety

Shazam was not the magic word at the weekend box office.

“Shazam: Fury of the Gods” opened to number 1 in North America, but the sequel from Warner Bros. and DC Comics fell short of expectations with its disappointing $30.5 million debut from 4,071 theaters. Heading into the weekend, the film was expected to gross $35 million to $40 million, which wasn’t all that spectacular since it cost north of $110 million to make and another $100 million to market.

It’s a big drop from 2019’s “Shazam,” the first cartoon installment starring Zachary Levi’s quirky hero, which opened to $53.5 million and ended its box office run with $140 million domestically and $366 million worldwide. It’s also one of the worst starts in the DC Cinematic Universe, aside from pandemic-era releases like “Marvel 1984” ($16.7 million) and “The Suicide Squad” ($26 million), both of which opened simultaneously at HBO Max.

At the international box office, “Shazam 2” added $35 million from 77 markets for a dismal global start of $65.5 million.

Reviews and word-of-mouth may not help “Shazam: Fury of the Gods” in the coming week. It obtained a “B+” CinemaScore, down from the “A” grade of the first film. And it holds 53% on Rotten Tomatoes, a dramatic decrease from the 90% average of the original. David F. Sandberg is back to direct “Fury of the Gods,” which centers on Levi’s Billy Batson and his foster brothers — all of whom transform into superheroes when they say “Shazam!” – as they team up 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.

“Fury of the Gods”, to some extent, is also the victim of the great restoration at DC. It’s the first film to be released since James Gunn and Peter Safran took over the superhero universe and set it on a whole new direction. Although the producers were careful not to absolutely rule out the return of any established DC hero (apart from Henry Cavill as Superman), fans can see the writing on the wall.

At one point, comic book tents were untouchable at the box office. But “Shazam 2,” like Disney’s poorly received Marvel sequel “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” is starting to show cracks, at least when it comes to underrated adventures. “Ant Man 3” impressed with its powerful opening weekend of $106 million in February, but it fell apart in later weeks and will almost certainly end up as the lowest-grossing installment in the trilogy despite earning the biggest start. DC’s previous standalone adventure “Black Adam,” led by Dwayne Johnson, also massively disappointed in its theatrical run, grossing $392 million worldwide on its $200 million-plus budget.

That doesn’t mean superhero fatigue has taken over — both Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” and Sony’s “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” look set to dominate at the summer box office — but it points to a future in which studios can no longer release any mega-budget comic adaptation in theaters with the expectation. it will earn at least 500 million dollars worldwide easily.

So far (in 2023), ‘Ant-Man’ has slowed down after a great start, and ‘Shazam’ is falling,” says David A. Gross, who runs the film consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “Neither film found an original, creative way forward; nor exalted their series.”

Elsewhere at the box office, Paramount’s thriller “Scream VI” slipped to second place with $17.5 million from 3,676 North American theaters. Those box office takes, down 61% from its stellar $41 million debut, bring the sequel’s domestic tally to $76 million after two weeks on the big screen. The horror film added another $40 million internationally, bringing its global tally to $116 million.

Michael B. Jordan’s sports drama “Creed III” took third place with $15.3 million from 3,477 locations, down 44% from the weekend before. After three weeks of release, the film generated a stellar $127.7 million. Already the third film “Creed” has surpassed its predecessors, as the first film ended its run with $109 million and the sequel took advantage with $115 million.

Sony’s prehistoric sci-fi thriller “65” reached No. 4 with $5.8 million from 3,405 theaters, down 54% from its debut. The film, starring Adam Driver, has grossed $22.4 million so far, which isn’t a great result given 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. So far, it has 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 with $462 million worldwide, box office receipts for “Ant-Man 3” are dramatically below the first film’s $519 million and the follow-up’s $622 million.

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