Warner Bros.' Shazam! is currently projected to have the lowest box office opening for a DC Extended Universe movie yet. The DCEU turns six years old in 2019 and has already seen its share of commercial smash-hits (Aquaman, Wonder Woman), misfires (Justice League), and those that fall somewhere in-between (Man of Steel). Nevertheless, the future looks pretty bright for DC's superhero franchise, between a promising slate of movies scheduled through to 2022 - one that includes Wonder Woman and Aquaman sequels - and the early positive worth of mouth around Shazam!, following its first round of pre-release screenings.
Directed by David F. Sandberg (Annabelle: Creation), Shazam! tells the tale of Billy Batson (Asher Angel), a teenaged foster kid who gains the ability to transform into a Superman-like hero named Shazam (Zachary Levi) simply by calling out his name. The Shazam comic book character is obviously not as popular or well-known as superheroes like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, so it's long been expected that his movie would open on the softer side, by DCEU standards. According to the latest projections, that will indeed be the case.
According to Variety, Shazam! is currently predicted to gross upwards of $40 million during its opening weekend at the U.S. box office early next month. For comparison's sake, Aquaman debuted with $67.8 million in the U.S. this past December (the DCEU's lowest opening yet) and Wonder Woman opened with $103.2 million domestically back in June 2017. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice still holds the record for the DCEU's highest stateside premiere, with a $166 million three-day weekend take.
Keeping that in mind, there's no reason for WB to start panicking about Shazam!. As mentioned, it's long been expected the the film would open well below the previous DCEU movies simply because mainstream audiences aren't all that familiar with Shazam himself. Fortunately, Variety is reporting that the film had an $80 million production budget (which is even lower than the $90 million number previously reported), so it doesn't need to perform nearly as strongly as previous DCEU tentpoles to turn a profit (Aquaman, by comparison, cost about $160 million to make). Plus, if the movie continues to generate positive buzz, its opening weekend could easily rise above the $40 million prediction. The sneak peek Shazam! screenings scheduled for March 23 should only help the film, in this respect.
Beyond that, there's inevitably going to be a movie series in any cinematic universe that starts off being far less popular than its peers (even the Marvel Cinematic Universe has Ant-Man, after all). Shazam! already has the makings of a unique and fresh addition to the DCEU thanks to its generally playful tone and distinct action-comedy vibe, and should prove to be a worthwhile addition to the larger franchise for it. Assuming that's the case, it'll eventually attract the bigger crowd that it's going for.
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
- Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- DC Super Pets (2022) release date: May 20, 2022
- The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
- The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021
- Aquaman 2 (2022) release date: Dec 16, 2022