Another superhero movie, another one at the top of the box office. However, DC’s latest movie, Blue Beetle, fell short of meeting its initial $30 million projection, with a rather tepid $25.4 million opening. The headlines will scream “superhero fatigue!” yet again, even if Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse showed that this tired discourse isn’t a thing. But it shows how damaged the DC brand is, especially in the wake of The Flash being one of the biggest box office bombs of all time.
The writing was on the wall that Blue Beetle would underperform in its opening weekend, despite overwhelmingly positive reviews. Will we see an Elemental situation where the film opens with rather lousy results but becomes a sleeper hit and builds word-of-mouth hype over time? Time will tell how much it’ll drop as Gran Turismo opens wide next week, but superhero movies aren’t hitting as they used to lately because the storytelling has been quite stale. Yes, Blue Beetle was fun, but it re-tread many origin story beats that audiences have seen too many times in previous superhero films.
So it’s safe to say that James Gunn has the world on his shoulders with Superman: Legacy. If that film flops, it’s highly doubtful that DC will recover and continue its ten-year plan. As for Marvel, they’re also on a rough patch (did any of you watch Secret Invasion? Yikes) but have a good track record of being critic-proof enough to be more successful than the current iteration of DC. If the rumor mill proves true, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is also set to be a major flop, even if the first one made over $1 billion worldwide. Is it an overall disdain in the DCEU or actual “superhero fatigue”? It’s an interesting question to ponder, and one that I hope to answer in 2025, should Superman: Legacy release then.
As for other releases this weekend, Strays is also struggling. While the film cost less than Blue Beetle, it also massively underperformed this weekend with a lousy $8.3 million tally over a $46 million budget. After Oppenheimer, Universal’s recent string of releases has not been as strong as Nolan’s film. The Last Voyage of the Demeter has already been pulled from many theatres, and now Strays will likely suffer the same fate. Of course, it didn’t help that both films had lousy word-of-mouth (minus Joey in the case of Strays), to begin with, and that August is a true dumping month for films.
We still haven’t fully felt the effects of the SAG-AFTRA strike on the box office, as most aren’t going to the theaters right now (except the remaining ones who still hadn’t seen Barbie and Oppenheimer and wanted the crowds to die down). On the other hand, if the AMPTP doesn’t resolve the strikes soon, the impact will be felt as the fall movie season ramps up. I don’t know anything about the matter, but some of the bigger fall titles will move should the strikes continue then.
Here’s the full list of the top ten films of the weekend:
- Blue Beetle (Warner Bros/DC): $25.4M – 3,871 theatres
- Barbie (Warner Bros): $21.5M (-36.5%) – 4,003 theatres
- Oppenheimer (Universal): $10.6M (-43.7%) – 3,321 theatres
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (Paramount): $8.4M (-44.9%) – 3,477 theatres
- Strays (Universal): $8.3M – 3,223 theatres
- Meg 2: The Trench (Warner Bros): $6.7M (-47.6%) – 3,402 theatres
- Talk to Me (A24): $3.1M (-37.2%) – 1,789 theatres
- Haunted Mansion (Disney): $3.0M (-48.2%) – 2,180 theatres
- Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning – Part One (Paramount): $2.7M (-40.8%) – 1,608 theatres
- The Last Voyage of the Demeter (Universal): $2.5M (-61.6%) – 2,715 theatres
Source: Box Office Mojo