Warner Bros. said goodbye to the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) with a fizzle instead of a bang for the franchise's final movie.
Before DC Studios co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran kick off their newly rebooted universe of DC stories in 2024, its predecessor, the DCEU, has one more movie to release in James Wan's Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.
And after the DCEU's final film faced a handful of release date changes over the past couple of years, fans worry that Aquaman 2 will be another flop for Warner Bros., closing out a year already full of DC box office failures.
Final DCEU Movie Brings Subdued Premiere Event
Pundits shared a recap of the world premiere event for Warner Bros.' Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom on Monday, December 18, including pictures from the screening, which turned out to be quite a dull affair compared to typical premiere festivities.
The Hollywood Reporter's Borys Kit noted that there was "no red carpet premiere" or an afterparty, with only director James Wan and star Jason Momoa in attendance at The Grove in Los Angeles, California:
"And thus the DCEU ends, not with a bang but a whimper. No red carpet premiere, no afterparty, just a small (but neat) pre-reception, a 'fan screening,' and only Jason Momoa and James Wan at the Grove to close out a veritable era..."
Fandom's Eric Goldman shared his own photos from the event, including a shot of a couple of ice glasses with shots in them that he "had to wrap...in napkins to hold" during the pre-party:
"Pouring one out for the DCEU with an 'Aquaman 2' screening pre-party (note the ice glasses those shots are in - we had to wrap them in napkins to hold)"
Although over half a dozen characters will return for this movie after first starring in 2018's Aquaman, none of the actors outside of Momoa were seen in person at this Warner Bros. event.
Will Aquaman 2 Succeed for Warner Bros.?
Taking into account how disappointing this goodbye event for the DCEU is, the stage doesn't appear to be set for Aquaman 2 to have the most successful run when it hits theaters to close out 2023.
Viewers are already worried after hearing that the film's review embargo will be lifted at 8:00 a.m. MT / 10:00 a.m. ET on Thursday, December 21, only about 12 hours before Thursday night previews kick off in the United States.
Combine that with box office forecasts predicting that Aquaman 2 could earn less than $40 million domestically in its opening weekend, less than half the total seen by its predecessor, and the odds for success are currently looking quite slim.
Whether it be the ramifications of the legal drama surrounding star Amber Heard or the fact that this movie will be the DCEU's last before the new DCU starts, numerous factors are affecting Aquaman 2's potential run of success.
And considering that this movie won't even feature any sort of Justice League crossover, which was saved for the Aquaman 2 prequel comic, there will be plenty of hurdles for the Aquaman sequel to overcome as it closes the DCEU for good.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will debut in theaters on Friday, December 22.