As Shazam! Fury Of The Gods Wins The Weekend Box Office, The Central Hero's DC Universe Future Is In Jeopardy

 Zachary Levi in Shazam! Fury Of The Gods
Zachary Levi in Shazam! Fury Of The Gods

The in-the-works DC Universe created by DC Studios co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran is presently in a kind of open ended state. The canon is set to officially launch with Superman: Legacy in 2025 (which Gunn is now set to direct himself), and a slate of upcoming DC movies has been announced – but seemingly not every decision has been made regarding characters/actors from the DC Extended Universe who may stick around in the new continuity. For example, director David F. Sandberg said recently that the future of Zachary Levi's Shazam on the big screen would in part depend on the box office performance of Shazam! Fury Of The Gods... though now that the early opening weekend numbers are in, it's hard to feel optimistic about the situation.

Check out the numbers for the full domestic Top 10 below, and join me after for analysis.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods Weekend Box Office March 17-24, 2023
Shazam! Fury of the Gods Weekend Box Office March 17-24, 2023

Shazam! Fury Of The Gods Is The #1 Movie In America, But The Numbers Aren't Great

It should be noted that the opening weekend box office numbers for Shazam! Fury Of The Gods aren't overly surprising, as we've been hearing for nearly a month that results like this were coming. A trade report's projections for the superhero blockbuster's first three days in theaters from a few weeks ago set a very low bar in terms of expectations, and yet the film has sadly ended up crawling under it. The February estimates said that the movie was only going to make between $35-40 million, and The Numbers says that the real final total is more in the realm of $30.5 million.

This is a bad look on two separate fronts. For starters, that number is nearly half of what its predecessor brought in during its opening (David F. Sandberg's Shazam! made $53 million back in April 2019, which actually beat out predictions going into the weekend). What's worse is that the sequel cost more to produce than the original too, as Variety says its $125 million budget is $25 million more than what was given to the series-launcher.

So why is Shazam! Fury Of The Gods disappointing at the box office? One element to point to is buzz. While Shazam! was received near-universal acclaim from critics (the CinemaBlend review of the movie called it "a rousing comic book origin story that stands apart from the pack"), the follow-up has ended up in territory much more comparable to the reception for Peyton Reed's Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania. While the first film got an "A" grade from surveys distributed by CinemaScore, the new title has gotten a "B+."

Rachel Zegler and Adam Brody in Shazam! Fury of the Gods
Rachel Zegler and Adam Brody in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

It's very possible that the bigger problem surrounding the release of Shazam! Fury Of The Gods has nothing to do with the movie itself. As mentioned, DC Studios is presently in the midst of a major behind-the-scenes transition and is planning the launch of a brand new canon in the coming years... and one could understand if that has diminished incentive for audiences to see all the films that are set to come out in the time before that happens. It's akin to a network promoting a show that has already been cancelled.

What Warner Bros. should potentially be concerned about is that this is only the start of a bad trend for 2023, as the Shazam! sequel is just one of four DC blockbusters set to hit theaters this year – the others being Andy Muschietti's The Flash (June 16), Angel Manuel Soto's Blue Beetle (August 18), and James Wan's Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom (December 25). Those movies may independently have greater success than Fury Of The Gods if they end up having better, more positive word of mouth, but it's hard not to see their potential as now being handicapped because they are part of a canon that is being petered out.

Thanks to $35 million coming from cinemas overseas, Shazam! Fury Of The Gods' global box office haul presently stands at $65.5 million, It's future certainly doesn't look particularly bright, however, and its chances of winning a second box office crown are basically zero due to Chad Stahelski's John Wick: Chapter 4 arriving in theaters on Friday.

Scream VI And Creed III Continue To Make Money After Their Respective Franchise Record-Breaking Opening Weekends

Shazam! Fury Of The Gods is the third big movie to hit the big screen thus far in March, and while its office results are quite underwhelming, the previous two titles continue to do quite well. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett's Scream VI didn't have what could be called an ideal sophomore Friday-to-Sunday in theaters, as its weekend-to-weekend percentage drop eclipsed 60 percent, but both it and Michael B. Jordan's Creed III continue to perform as proper blockbusters.

After making an impressive $44.4 million during its first three days in theaters, Scream VI has now added an estimated $17.5 million to its domestic box office haul. Combined with the money that has been earned overseas, the film has now made $116 million worldwide, which means it is getting ready to start climbing up the franchise rankings. Its presently the fifth highest grossing title in the series (thus far its only made more money than Wes Craven's Scream 4 from 2011), but it will only need to make another $13 million before it outgrosses Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett's Scream from last year.

If it can manage to make another $58 million worldwide before the end of its theatrical run (which is a large sum), it will become the biggest Scream movie of all time (not accounting for inflation, of course).

Creed III has proven to be an even more powerful box office goliath. The boxing spectacle starring Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors has not only already made more than nine figures domestically, but it has made $224.3 million globally. That means that it is not only the biggest success of all the Creed movies thus far, but the third biggest hit in the history of the Rocky franchise (John G. Avidsen's Rocky has made $225 million during its lifetime on the big screen, and Sylvester Stallone's Rocky IV made $300.4 million).

How will the arrival of the aforementioned John Wick: Chapter 4 shake things up in the Top 10, not to mention Zach Braff's A Good Person starring Florence Pugh and Morgan Freeman? Be sure to head back here to CinemaBlend next Sunday to find out – and in the meantime, you can learn about all of the films hitting the big screen in the weeks and months to come with our 2023 Movie Release Calendar.