Box office: ‘Shazam: Fury of the Gods’ stumbles over $30 million in opening weekend

Shazam wasn’t the magic word at the weekend box offices.

Shazam: Fury of the Gods opened at No. 1 in North America, but the Warner Bros. and DC Comics sequel underperformed with its disappointing $30.5 million debut in 4,071 theaters. Heading into the weekend, the film should gross $35-40 million, which is already underwhelming given that it cost over $110 million to make and another $100 million to market.

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It’s a significant drop from 2019’s “Shazam,” the first comic book installment starring Zachary Levi’s whimsical hero, which opened at $53.5 million and charted the box office at $140 million domestically and $366 million US dollars worldwide ended. It’s also one of the worst starts in the DC Cinematic Universe, barring pandemic-era releases like Wonder Woman 1984 ($16.7 million) and The Suicide Squad ($26 million), both at the same time launched on HBO Max.

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

Reviews and word of mouth may not help Shazam: Fury of the Gods in the coming week. It landed a “B+” CinemaScore, down from the first film’s “A” grade. And it holds 53% on Rotten Tomatoes, a dramatic drop 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 foster siblings – who all transform into superheroes when they say “Shazam!” – as they band together to fight the Daughters of Atlas, who wield a weapon that could destroy the world. Rachel Zegler, Adam Brody, Lucy Liu and Helen Mirren star in the film.

Fury of the Gods is also, to some extent, the victim of DC’s big reset. It’s the first film to be released since James Gunn and Peter Safran took over the superhero universe and gave it a brand new direction. Although the producers have been careful not to rule out the return of any established DC hero outright (apart from Henry Cavill as Superman), fans can see the writing on the wall.

At one point, comic tent poles 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 subpar adventures. Ant Man 3 impressed with its whopping $106 million opening weekend in February, but it’s collapsed in the weeks that have followed and, despite having the best start, will almost certainly be the highest-grossing installment of the trilogy. DC’s previous standalone adventure, Black Adam, directed by Dwayne Johnson, was also a massive disappointment when it opened, grossing $392 million worldwide on a budget of over $200 million.

That’s not to say that superhero fatigue has taken hold — and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Sony’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse seem to dominate at the summer box office — but it does point to one A future where studios will no longer be able to release any mega-budget comic adaptation to theaters with the expectation that it will easily gross at least $500 million worldwide.

Until now [in 2023]”Ant-Man” slowed down after a stellar start and “Shazam” falls,” said David A. Gross, who runs film consultancy Franchise Entertainment Research. “None of the films has found an original, creative way forward; none increased their streak.”

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 ticket sales, down 61% from its stellar $41 million debut, bring the sequel to $76 million after two weeks on the big screen. The horror film has 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 venues, down just 44% from the previous weekend. After three weeks of release, the film has grossed a whopping $127.7 million. Already the third Creed film has surpassed its predecessors as the first film ended its run at $109 million and the sequel grossed $115 million.

Sony’s prehistoric sci-fi thriller ’65’ came in at number 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 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. To date, it has grossed $205 million in North America, ahead of the original Ant-Man ($180 million) and behind the 2018 sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp ($216 million). But at $462 million worldwide, Ant-Man 3 ticket sales are dramatically below the $519 million first film and $622 million sequel.

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