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‘Shazam!’ sequel stumbles with USD30.5M debut

Lindsey Bahr

AP – Shazam! Fury of the Gods felt the fury of the marketplace in its theatrical debut this weekend. The New Line Cinema and Warner Bros superhero movie opened to a disappointing USD30.5 million from 4,071 theatres, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

The Shazam! sequel fell short of its modest expectations (USD35 million) as well as the first film in the series (USD53.5 million in April 2019), and earned a place on the very low end of modern DC comics movie launches, between Birds of Prey (USD33 million in February 2020) and The Suicide Squad (USD26.2 million in August 2021), both of which were R-rated.

Directed by David F Sandberg, Shazam! Fury of the Gods brought back Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Adam Brody and Djimon Hounsou, and added Helen Mirren, Rachel Zegler and Lucy Liu. Critics, many of whom found the first film charming, were largely underwhelmed by this outing. It currently holds a 53-per-cent Rotten Tomatoes critic score.

Audiences were more positive about the sequel, giving it a B+ CinemaScore overall. Younger crowds were even more favourable.

“This movie clearly was lighter than we thought it would be,” said head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros Jeff Goldstein. “We know there’s a rolling spring break over the next few weeks when kids are available, which is who it’s targetted towards. We’re hopeful that we can get a big multiple.”

The image released by Warner Bros Pictures shows (from left) Ross Butler, Adam Brody, Grace Caroline Currey, Zachary Levi, Meagan Good and DJ Cotrona in a scene from ‘Shazam! Fury of the Gods’. PHOTO: AP

Shazam! Fury of the Gods cost a reported USD125 million to produce, not factoring in marketing and promotion costs. Internationally, it grossed USD35 million from 77 overseas markets including China, bringing its total earnings to USD65.5 million.

The DC shop at Warner Bros has been going through a major recalibration for the past several months, with new bosses in James Gunn and Peter Safran forging a path ahead for the DC Universe that will officially kick off with a new Superman in 2025. Shazam! 2 was one of several holdovers of the old regime, which includes The Flash coming in June and a new Aquaman in December.

“Part of our company’s total overhaul of DC with Peter Safran and James Gunn is to reset it for the future,” Goldstein said. “It’s all about the future for us.”

For senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian at Comscore, there’s a silver lining in that Warner Bros and DC “another number one under their belt”. “They’re trying to readjust and realign the brand,” Dergarabedian said. “You don’t change the trajectory for a brand as big as DC without it taking some time. This is a work in progress and this is one step in that journey.”

Second place went to Scream IV in its second weekend in theaters. The horror pic, distributed by Paramount, fell 61 per cent from its debut and added USD17.5 million, bringing its domestic total to USD76 million.

In its third weekend, Creed III grossed an additional USD15.4 million to land in the number three spot. The film, directed by and starring Michael B Jordan has now earned USD127.7 million in North America. 65 and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania rounded out the top five with USD5.8 million and USD4.1 million, respectively.

Following its Oscar sweep last Sunday, A24 added over 1,000 screens for an encore Everything Everywhere All At Once run, where it earned an additional USD1.2 million. The Whale, for which Brendan Fraser won best actor, played on 509 screens and made USD145,230.

“What audiences are enjoying right now is a diversity of content,” Dergarabedian said.

“Overall, it’s shaping up to be a strong month with Creed III and Scream VI getting franchise best debuts. We may see the same with John Wick 4.”