Warner Bros. Suffers 5 Box Office Flops in a Row With Their DC Superhero Movies

By Savannah Sanders Posted:
Aquaman, Flash, Shazam

Warner Bros.' DCEU franchise limped across the finish line with a record of five box office bombs.

In the wake of Warner Bros. announcing James Gunn and Peter Safran's DC reboot, the studio has been busy releasing its remaining five films from the former DCEU regime. 

Granted, the DC Extended Universe had already been plagued by controversy, confusion, and a lack of connections. However, the franchise's latest films not only continued that trend but produced record-breaking box office losses.

Note: Modern-day blockbuster movies that do not make back twice their budget at the worldwide box office are generally considered not successful, as theaters take a percentage of theatrical earnings for themselves and studios have other expenses like marketing to pay off. Studios rely on the box office as the main revenue driver for their big-budget movies, yet still make decent money from their home media sales, licensing, and streaming deals.

Warner Bros.' 5 DC Superhero Flops

Justice League

Black Adam

Budget: $260,000,000 

Worldwide Gross: $393,252,111

Back in October 2022, the DCEU was awaiting the debut of Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam who promised to change "the hierarchy of power in the DC Universe..."

However, it was James Gunn, not Johnson's anti-hero, who truly changed the hierarchy.

Within days of Black Adam's theatrical debut, Gunn and Safran were tapped for their new roles; and while that's far from the only reason for the movie's poor performance, it certainly didn't help fill Warner Bros. make back their cash. 

Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Budget: $125,000,000 

Worldwide Gross: $133,783,006

The long-awaited sequel to 2019's Shazam!, and the studio's first superhero film of 2023, was not just another box office stumble but earned $230 million less than its predecessor.

While there was early speculation that Zachary Levi's Shazam could crossover into the DC reboot, Fury of the Gods' poor performance coupled with post-release drama did little to help its chances or the sequel's reception.

The Flash

Budget: $220,000,000 

Worldwide Gross: $266,516,138

The hits just kept coming for Warner Bros. with The Flash. Despite high expectations and the heavily marketed return of Michael Keaton's Batman, the DCEU event film was eventually described as one of the worst box office flops in Hollywood history

While an audience score on par with 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was huge a problem, what made the film a historic financial bomb was its massive budget of a reported $200 million for production and $150 million for marketing.  

Blue Beetle

Budget: $104,000,000 

Worldwide Gross: $128,772,124

Surprisingly, the second-to-last DCEU movie ever was an origin story, and that was just one of its problems.

Despite praise for its charming Latino-led cast, and particularly its lead star Xolo Maridueña, Blue Beetle's record-low opening proved the audience's lack of interest in whatever was left of the former DC franchise. 

While its $104 million budget was a saving grace, Blue Beetle's uninspired marketing and reliance on superhero tropes could've been helped by a few extra bucks. 

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Budget: $205,000,000 

Current Worldwide Gross as of December 31, 2023: $258,270

Not only did the final film of the DC Extended Universe earn the worst audience score ever but, just like its superhero predecessors, it failed to fill seats. 

Even though this wasn't a surprise as early box office projections predicted as much, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is still another colossal financial loss for Warner Bros., made all the worse by the fact it's a direct sequel to 2018's Aquaman which earned over a billion. 

From Five Flops in Fourteen Months to Superman: Legacy

The past fourteen months which began with Black Adam and have now ended with Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom have been painful to watch. 

While they proved that the old DCEU desperately needed a new and unified vision, their performances and their narratives were hurt by the fact they weren't confirmed to be part of it. 

After five theatrical flops, Warner Bros. and DC fans are likely more eager than ever for the arrival of 2025's Superman: Legacy and the arrival of Chapter 1: Gods and Monsters.

The question now is how Warner Bros. will weather its string of superhero losses while looking to reinvest in cinematic comic book storytelling once more. 

- In This Article: Shazam! Fury of the Gods
Release Date
March 17, 2023
Asher Angel
- About The Author: Savannah Sanders
Savannah Sanders joined The Direct as a writer in 2020. In addition to writing for The Direct's Star Wars, Marvel, and DC teams, Savannah specializes in the relationship between Disney's blockbuster franchises and the Disney Parks.