The first “Shazam” film was a bright spot for the middling DCEU when it opened in 2019. The film boasts of 90% critics and 82% audience’s Rotten Tomatoes score so far. It raked in $366 million at the box office against a budget of $90 to $100 million. However, it looks like its sequel, “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” won’t be able to replicate that success even with an almost similar budget again. Latest reports indicate that the film will have a disastrous box office opening, which is probably going to be exacerbated due to poor critic reviews.
‘Shazam 2’ Receives Poor Reviews, Box Office Start
As per Deadline, “Shazam 2” has grossed $3.4 million in its Thursday previews at the domestic box office. This places it at the absolute bottom of the DCEU in this regard. Here are the Thursday preview earnings at the domestic box office of every DC film released till now, ranked from the lowest to the highest:
- Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023) – $3.4M
- Birds of Prey (2020) – $4M
- The Suicide Squad (2021) – $4.1M
- Black Adam (2022): $7.6M
- Shazam! (2019) – $9.2M
- Wonder Woman (2017) – $11M
- Justice League (2017): $13 million
- Aquaman (2018): $13.7 million
- Suicide Squad (2016): $20.5
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016): $27.7M
“Wonder Woman 1984” isn’t included in the list because it didn’t have any Thursday screenings. The David F. Sandberg-directed superhero film is expected to take in $11 million on Friday and a total of about $30 million over the weekend at the box office. These are dismal numbers for a movie from DC, the biggest superhero movie franchise after Marvel. To make matters worse, it seems like almost every sequel film released this year has performed better in its opening weekend than its predecessor at the box office, except “Shazam 2.”
“Ant-Man 3,” “Scream 6,” and ‘Creed 3″ raked in $100 million, $67 million, and $58.7 million, respectively, setting franchise records. But predictions say that “Shazam 2” won’t be able to cross the first film’s $53.5 million opening weekend numbers. To make matters worse, critics are brutally slandering the movie. It currently holds a Rotten Tomatoes critics score of 54%. However, audiences have been much more lenient and have given it a good 84 percent. However, even though its audience scores are better than the first one, it doesn’t look like people are going to the theaters to watch it.
What Went Wrong With ‘Shazam 2’?
The poor box office performance of “Shazam 2” has surprised DC fans. However, its dismal performance hasn’t been surprising to everyone. Some think that the first film was only a success because it was a colorful and fun contrast to the kind of movies DC was famous for—Zack Snyder’s dark and heavy ones. However, the announcement of a brighter DCU has made the sequel to that film lose its shine. After all, without that darkness to shine against, “Shazam 2” became an ordinary superhero film that didn’t reinvent the wheel or do anything new at all.
Also, it can’t be denied that the superhero cinema landscape is slowly changing. After more than a decade of superhero films, viewers want something more innovative and creative from such films. This year’s “Ant-Man 3,” which was supposed to usher in Phase 5 of the MCU and introduce its new villain, Kang, didn’t live up to audience expectations either. Viewers who have watched “Shazam 2” also seem to think that lead actor Zachary Levi’s acting performance leaves much to be desired.
What Is Shazam’s DCU Future?
The sequel’s poor box office performance has also impacted the future of its titular character in the DCU. In James Gunn’s new DCU slate, there’s no project involving Shazam. There’s also no concrete confirmation on whether Zachary Levi will return to play the cheesy superhero again. Even though the co-CEO of DC Studios has remarked that Levi can return in a future project, nothing is certain as of yet.
After all, both Sandberg and Levi heavily indicated on Twitter that their DCU futures would heavily depend on the box office performance of this film. So if the film doesn’t improve its collections, it’s predicted that it and the DC futures of everyone associated with it will sink as well. But that won’t be the only impact. “Shazam 2” is setting a poor precedent for DC. After “Black Adam,” this is the second recent DC film to have failed at the box office.
This makes general audiences think that DC films don’t regularly shine at the box office, and this, in turn, reduces DC’s brand value, making people think that their movies are not compulsory appointment watches like the MCU’s offerings. Also, with its poor numbers, it looks like “Shazam 2” has effectively ended all conversations about the revival of the DCEU. James Gunn will probably be feeling secure in his decision to reboot the franchise after back-to-back poor box office collections of DC movies. Now, all eyes are on “The Flash” to see if it can lift DC.