Last November, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's passion project Black Adam hit theaters to poor reviews and a break-even performance at the box office. As a result, Johnson admitted defeat and shared that there were no current plans to return in the DC Universe (DCU).
The future of the DCU is being forged by new DC Studios co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran. Chapter 1: Gods and Monsters will be kicked off in 2023 with Superman: Legacy after this year's The Flash resets the universe (sort of).
However, this soft reboot will doesn't come with confusion, like Blue Beetle and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom release later this year as well. Primarily, a film like Shazam 2 is completely lost in the DC cosmos, leading to poor box office expectations.
Shazam 2 Projected to Earn Less Than Black Adam
According to Box Office Pro's latest box office forecast projects Shazam! Fury of the Gods to earn between $43 and $52 million during its opening three-day weekend.
To begin with the positive, this will certainly be the highest-grossing film the weekend starting March 17. However, that's where the optimism ends for DC's first 2023 film.
The high-end projection of $52 million wouldn't even reach the $53.5 million 2019's Shazam! earned (at the time the DCEU's lowest opening).
In fact, the original Shazam! wasn't a massive hit monetarily ($363.6 million worldwide), but its positive reviews and potential for sequel success led to Fury of the Gods being green-lit.
Honing in on the opening weekend numbers, the weakest DCEU film is Birds of Prey, but the numbers don't prove that.
Here's a look at the five lowest opening weekends by DC's dated universe:
- Black Adam - $67 million
- Shazam! - $53.5 million
- Birds of Prey - $33 million
- The Suicide Squad - $26.2 million*
- Wonder Woman 1984 - $16.7 million*
*The Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman 1984 were released day and date on HBO Max during the global pandemic.
A low-end result here by the Zachary Levi-led flick would be a super-sied failure. At least Birds of Prey (led by Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn) has the excuse that it was rated R and a spin-off to the widely detested Suicide Squad from 2016.
In 2023, a light-hearted hero may really feel the effects of fans losing interest in the current DC slate, in lieu of Gunn's future plans.
DC Studios Sacrificing Today for a Brighter Tomorrow
A common concern after James Gunn and co-CEO Peter Safran announced the future of the DCU on January 31 was keeping audiences' interest in the upcoming four films slated in 2023.
Unlike the completely scrapped Batgirl film (which new boss Safran called "not releasable"), Shazam 2 had a reported budget of only $125 million and with a wide theatrical release could still be profitable with an underwhelming box office performance compared to its peers.
As a result, DC's future isn't riding on the shoulders of this film, but poor critical reception could hurt the future prospects of The Flash and Aquaman 2's earnings potential (two films with much higher commercial expectations).
Less than a month before releasing in theaters, Shazam 2 clearly has some work to do in order to earn more money than its predecessors. This is the era of sequel dominance, even a comparable comic book film like Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania earned over $100 million opening weekend despite poor reviews.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods soars into theaters on March 17.