"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 $30.5 million from 4,071 theaters, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The "Shazam!" sequel fell short of its modest expectations ($35 million) as well as the first film in the series ($53.5 million in April 2019), and earned a place on the very low end of modern DC comics movie launches, between "Birds of Prey" ($33 million in February 2020) and "The Suicide Squad" ($26.2 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% Rotten Tomatoes critic score.
Audiences were more positive about the sequel, giving it a B+ CinemaScore overall. Younger crowds were even more favorable.
"This movie clearly was lighter than we thought it would be," said Jeff Goldstein, the head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros. "We know there's a rolling spring break over the next few weeks when kids are available, which is who it's targeted towards. We're hopeful that we can get a big multiple."
"Shazam! Fury of the Gods" cost a reported $125 million to produce, not factoring in marketing and promotion costs. Internationally, it grossed $35 million from 77 overseas markets including China, bringing its total earnings to $65.5 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 Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore, there's a silver lining in that Warner Bros. and DC have "another No. 1 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% from its debut and added $17.5 million, bringing its domestic total to $76 million.
In its third weekend, "Creed III" grossed an additional $15.4 million to land in the No. 3 spot. The film, directed by and starring Michael B. Jordan has now earned $127.7 million in North America. "65" and "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" rounded out the top five with $5.8 million and $4.1 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 $1.2 million. "The Whale," for which Brendan Fraser won best actor, played on 509 screens and made $145,230.
"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'."
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore, with Wednesday through Sunday in parentheses. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. "Shazam! Fury of the Gods," $30.5 million.
2. "Scream VI," $17.5 million.
3. "Creed III," $15.4 million.
4. "65," $5.8 million.
5. "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania," $4.1 million.
6. "Cocaine Bear," $3.9 million.
7. "Jesus Revolution," $3.5 million.
8. "Champions," $3 million.
9. "Avatar: The Way of Water," $1.9 million.
10. "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish," $1.5 million.
Lindsey Bahr is an AP film writer