Shazam: Fury Of The Gods Is The Beginning Of The End For DC?

Shazam: Fury of the Gods is a box office disaster with the lowest opening of any DC film, and now Warner Bros. Discovery has doubts about moving forward.

By Mark McKee | Updated

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Comic book movies used to be the untouchable kings of the box office thanks to the revitalization of the Batman films with Christopher Nolan’s trilogy and the jumpstart of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thanks to upwards of three dozen or more comic book films over the next decade, fans have become more choosey on what they want in the comic book adaptation world, and Shazam! Fury of the Gods is the latest DC property to suffer from that development. According to Variety, the Zachary Levi-led sequel had a dismal opening weekend, creating a situation for Warner Bros. Discovery to ask if this is the beginning of the end for their DC Universe. 

According to reports, the film brought in $30 million in its opening weekend, about $10 million shy of what the studio expected to haul. When a movie doesn’t do well domestically, the studios can hope that the international market can pick up the slack at the box office to bring in a more significant return on investment, but Shazam! Fury of the Gods only got DC another $35 million overseas, recouping only about a third of the film’s cost. This is a significant drop from the first film featuring the child-turned-superhero Billy Batson, which saw the 2019 movie bring in nearly double that during its opening weekend. 

Of course, this isn’t a new development in many ways, as not only did Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam fail to become the global sensation the studio was looking for, but Marvel has also seen a drop in the returns for their properties as well. Paul Rudd’s third outing as Scott Lang, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania had a massive opening weekend but saw a huge dropoff to make it the lowest earner in the trilogy. If the trend continues with Shazam! Fury of the Gods that could prove to be a massive financial disaster for DC. 

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Rachel Zeglar in Shazam: Fury of the Gods

But what is the cause of this sudden shift in the comic book box office in the last few years? While the initial reaction is to think that audiences have been hit with an unbreakable case of superhero fatigue and they are just sick of the genre (see the death of raunchy comedies as box office hits, for example) and they choose to spend their money elsewhere; in this case Scream VI, Creed III, and 65

The more likely cause is that the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Nolan trilogy have set a bar that has become increasingly more difficult to reach. Spider-Man: No Way Home showed that people would show up as long as Marvel brings an event-level experience and not just a run-of-the-mill superhero movie like it did all through the Infinity Saga. And for Shazam! Fury of the Gods and DC may be up against a fan base without reason to care. 

With the announcement from James Gunn and Peter Safran that the new DCU will be a full reset and everything before it, including Henry Cavill being left behind, there isn’t much reason to get excited about what is coming out. While the studio still has Aquaman 2The Flash, and Blue Beetle on the horizon, it remains to be seen if the fans will find a reason to head out to the theater.