Shazam 2 No Longer Year’s Biggest Bomb, A New Movie Just Flopped Harder

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves has fallen short of its opening weekend projections.

By Zack Zagranis | Updated

Shazam may have felt the fury of the Gods, but Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves faces a darker fate, the apathy of the fans. The new D&D movie was released this weekend with less-than-stellar results. Cosmic Book News reports that while critics and viewers generally praised Honor Among Thieves, it only managed to gross a meager $38.5 million over the weekend, falling short of the $40 million it was projected to take in.

Dungeons & Dragons cost an estimated $151 million to make, meaning an opening weekend of less than $40 million makes it unlikely the movie will earn back its money. Meanwhile, Shazam! Fury of the Gods was considered a box office disappointment when it earned only $30 million its opening weekend against a budget of $100 million. When compared to Dungeons & Dragons, Shazam 2 was actually a bigger hit.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves stars Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, and Sophia Lillis as a ragtag party of adventurers questing after an ancient artifact. The film was written and directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, the duo behind Spider-Man: Homecoming and Game Night.

What’s odd is how Dungeons & Dragons somehow failed to capitalize on the tabletop role-playing game renaissance we are currently living through. Shows like Critical Role and Dimension 20 have brought the formerly niche pen-and-paper game into the spotlight ( to say nothing of the countless D&D-themed podcasts).

Meanwhile, high-profile actors like Vin Diesel and Joe Manganiello run D&D campaigns where Hollywood’s biggest dorks can roll D20s and cast magic missiles with no judgment. In light of Dungeons & Dragons’ current mainstream popularity, Honor Among Thieves should have been a hit at the box office.

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So what happened? There are the regular trolls complaining that Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves was too “woke,” of course. That it treats its male characters as wimps and dares to make its female warriors strong.

As usual, it’s hard to take any criticism that uses the word “woke” as a pejorative seriously.

What’s more likely is that Dungeons & Dragons is a hard property to adapt into a movie. D&D is more a setting and a group of rules than it is one particular story. There are, of course, actual narratives set in various D&D settings, but for the most part, the game has always been whatever its players make it.

And that’s the real problem. A Dungeons & Dragons campaign run by one Dungeon Master might look completely different than one run by another DM. One session might use Kobolds as the main antagonists, while another session focuses on Beholders or Mindflayers.

There is no right way to do D&D.

How does Hollywood capture the spirit of a Dungeons & Dragons campaign on film? They don’t. At least not accurately.

It’s easy to fill a movie with bards, thieves, and barbarians and have them go on a generic fantasy adventure. What’s not easy is simulating the elation that comes from rolling a nat 20 or the exasperation of rolling a 1.

Any film adaptation of Dungeons & Dragons is going to be missing the frustration a DM feels when they have to explain to a Paladin for the hundredth time that playing a Lawful Good character means they can not steal from the other party members. No movie can ever replicate the feeling that comes from players asking what they have to roll to begin an intimate relationship with one of the goblins they’re supposed to be slaying.

Until Hollywood can figure out a way to account for the infinite variables present in an average Dungeons and Dragons play session, there will never be a truly successful D&D movie. Unless they make a direct adaptation of the ’80s cartoon. That would rule.