DC and New Line Cinema’s Shazam! Wrath of the Gods is a superhero image despised.
The film opened to a dismal $30.5 million domestically from 4,071 theaters, well behind the $53.5 million domestic opening of the first Shazam! in 2019, not adjusted for inflation.
It’s one of the worst starts for a major Hollywood superhero movie, as well as one of the worst for a title in the DC Cinematic Universe, including those released during the pandemic. Wrath of the Gods cost at least $110 million to produce before marketing.
The news was just as bad abroad, where Wrath of the Gods opened to just $35 million from 78 markets – including bombing in China with $4.4 million – for a worldwide start of $65.5 million.
In North America, prerelease tracking had suggested Shazam! Wrath of the Gods would open to at least $35 million this weekend. Others believed it had a $40 million shot.
Shazam 2‘s Rotten Tomatoes critic score is a ho-hum 54 percent. That compares to 90 percent for the 2019 film. The sequel also received a more subdued B+ CinemaScore compared to an A for the first.
Families—which played a key role in the first film’s surprise success—remains a challenging film demo in the pandemic. Parents and children also turned up for the sequel.
Wrath of the Gods is the 12th installment in the DC Extended Universe and the first to be released since Warner Bros. Discovery chief David Zaslav tapped James Gunn and Shazam! franchise producer Peter Safran to run DC Studios and do a complete overhaul.
Wrath of the Gods also comes as the future of the DC characters and actors introduced before Gunn and Safran’s takeover hangs in the balance. Superman actor Henry Cavill, for example, will not return. Levi talked about his future at Tuesday’s Hollywood premiere and shared The Hollywood Reporter: “I am very happy with this film. … I hope it’s not my last.”
David F. Sandberg directed Shazam! Wrath of the Gods from a screenplay by Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan. Asher Angel and Zachary Levi return as Billy Bastson aka Shazam. Djimon Hounson, Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu and in her first film since her breakout role in Spielberg’s west side HistoryRachel Zegler, also cast.
The other new wide release of the weekend was Roadside Attractions’ Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin’s Move on, which debuted to around $2 million from 791 screens. The comedy relied on older adults who, like families, are a challenged demo. Move on came in at No. 12.
Back in the top 10, Scream VI grossed $17.5 million from 3,675 theaters for a total of $76 million. The slasher picture dropped 61 percent. Overseas, it earned an additional $11.3 million from 53 markets for a foreign tally of $40 million—a good showing for a horror picture—and $116 million globally against a $33 million budget.
Creed III also remained a notable contender, earning $15.3 million from 3,477 locations in its third outing for a domestic cume of $127.6 million. The Michael B. Jordan pic added $12 million internationally from 75 markets for a foreign cume of $96.6 million and $224.3 million globally.
At the box office special, Focus Features’ Willem Defoe heist thriller Inside came in at No. 14 and grossed $470,000 from 375 locations.
19 March at 07.45: Updated with revised estimates.