Every time a superhero movie flops, we’re back with the same tiresome discourse of “the MCU is DEAD!” “the DCEU is DEAD!” and “superhero movies are DONE!” If superhero movies were truly done, we wouldn’t have gotten the MCU, especially with how bad, many comic book films were in the 1980s and 1990s, so, no. As has been the case for a long time, some movies perform better than others, and others underperform badly. The DCEU has been an interesting franchise to follow. Despite mixed reviews, their first franchise film, Man of Steel, succeeded considerably at the box office.
Then came Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, whose negative word-of-mouth tanked the film precipitously in its second weekend (just like Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania!). Part of the reason James Gunn‘s vastly superior The Suicide Squad did not do well at the box office was that the first film gave a bad taste in the audience’s mouths and that, despite strong reviews, audiences weren’t ready to come back for more. It’s also interesting that their Avengers-level team-up film, Justice League, bombed so badly at the box office that DC now prioritized solo films instead of a larger shared universe like the MCU. On the other hand, Aquaman made over $1 billion, despite mixed reviews. Word of mouth on that movie was strong, and it was released during a prime time for blockbusters: Christmas. The second film is also slated to release during that time, which could benefit its box office success.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods is a fascinating one. The first film didn’t do amazingly. It opened with a solid $50 million domestically for a decent $366.1 international tally. Its reviews were great, but it didn’t help that it was released a few weeks before one of the biggest movies of all time, Avengers: Endgame. Still, with good reviews, the sequel could’ve done better than a dismal $30.5 million, one of the worst openings of all time for the DCEU. Let it sink in: Morbius performed better than Shazam! Fury of the Gods.
It also didn’t help that James Gunn announced that the universe would be reset into the DCU after the events of The Flash, rendering most of what occurred in Shazam! Fury of the Gods meaningless. If the character isn’t returning, why bother seeing it? The same phenomenon happened with Dark Phoenix and The New Mutants. After Disney acquired Fox and stated that they would intend to integrate X-Men into the MCU (which has already been foreshadowed multiple times), both movies unsurprisingly flopped at the box office (also, New Mutants was delayed for three years and was released during a time where most audiences couldn’t go to theaters, a seemingly fitting end for this side of the X-Men franchise). If this franchise iteration isn’t continuing, what’s the incentive I get for seeing the movie?
I don’t know how well the Tom Cruise-approved The Flash, Blue Beetle, and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will do, but don’t be surprised if they also underperform. Still, it’s interesting to see the amazing word of mouth The Flash has been getting from David Zaslav, James Gunn, and now Tom Cruise without audiences seeing the film. If it’s that good, it may have a chance at making tons of money, despite its problematic star being attached as the lead role (who is never coming back to the DCU, that’s a guarantee). Time will tell how these aforementioned movies will do, and if Gunn’s Superman: Legacy will usher in a new (and better) era for the DC Universe than the messy 10-year nothing-burger that was the DC Extended Universe.
This box office report has mostly been a rant on the future of DC movies, but Shazam! Fury of the Gods was the biggest film of the weekend. It wasn’t the best week to release anything since most moviegoers are at home watching March Madness. Even last week hits like Scream VI and 65 dropped terribly. The Scream sequel only made $17.5 million in its second weekend, with a dismal 60.6% drop, and 65 also dropped badly at 53% with a lousy $5.8 million tally. That could’ve been expected with 65‘s bad reviews, but Scream VI dropping this fast isn’t great either.
Funnily enough, the only movie that made a considerable amount of money this weekend was…Everything Everywhere All at Once. That’s right, after it won Best Picture at the 95th Academy Awards, A24 re-released it in 1,633 theatres, and it made over $1.2 million, finishing eleventh and finally surpassing Morbius’ domestic cume. This is not a joke. DiscussingFilm tweeted about it, so I must state it here.
Here’s the full list of the top ten films for the week:
- Shazam! Fury of the Gods (Warner Bros/DC Studios): $30.5M – 4,071 theatres
- Scream VI (Paramount): $17.5M (-60.6%) – 3,676 theatres
- Creed III (MGM): $15.3M (-43.6%) – 3,477 theatres
- 65 (Sony): $5.8M (-53%) – 3,405 theatres
- Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (Disney): $4.0M (-42.9%) – 2,650 theatres
- Cocaine Bear (Universal): $3.8M (-38.1%) – 2,687 theatres
- Jesus Revolution (Lionsgate): $3.5M (-31.8%) – 2,354 theatres
- Champions (Universal): $3.0M (-41.2%) – 3,039 theatres
- Avatar: The Way of Water (Disney): $1.9M (-27.4%) – 1,190 theatres
- Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (Universal): $1.5M (-13.8%) – 1,735 theatres
Source: Box Office Mojo