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Is Shazam! Fury of the Gods the first victim of the new DC Studios era?

Are fans staying away from the new Shazam! movie because they want James Gunn's new DCU?

Shazam! Fury of the Gods
Image credit: DC/WB

Bad news for the Shazamily this weekend, as DC’s Shazam! Fury of the Gods underperformed at both the domestic and international box office — but could the problem be that fans are too excited for the dawn of James Gunn and Peter Safran’s DC Studios?

According to estimates, the second Shazam! movie came in roughly $5 million under expectations in the U.S., taking in $30.5 million against tracking of $35 million — a figure that was already significantly lower than the first movie’s $53.5 million opening weekend. That might reflect a weaker movie market in general as the industry continues to come back from the 2020 pandemic shutdown, but in an era where Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania took in $120 million on its opening weekend just a month earlier, it’s certainly a sign that all isn’t great for Billy Batson’s alter ego.

The same story was repeated internationally, with Shazam! Fury of the Gods underperforming even more dramatically, taking in $65.5 million against a projection of $85 million. (In this respect, at least, there’s a larger issue at play, with Chinese audiences increasingly moving away from Hollywood movies.)

Where was the audience for Shazam! Fury of the Gods?

So… what’s happening? There are a couple of possibilities that have less to do with a poor critical reception for the movie. Firstly, there’s the possibility that audiences were reticent to show up in the wake of last year’s Black Adam, a movie that promised much and arguably failed to deliver — especially given that Black Adam and Shazam are, in terms of mythology if not cinematic reality, related and interconnected.

How 'What's next' could've got in the way of Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Perhaps more likely is the possibility that DC fans felt that Shazam! Fury of the Gods wasn’t a “necessary” movie to go and see, given that the existing DC cinematic universe is going to be relaunched as part of the plans for the new DC Studios era, as unveiled with much fanfare earlier this year. The possibility that audiences would see the remaining DC movies before the relaunch — Shazam! Fury of the Gods, The Flash, Blue Beetle, and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom — as remnants of the past and inessential viewing in the wake of the announcement of an upcoming reboot was always a possibility… and, in the wake of this movie’s disappointing opening, perhaps a probability.

What will be important to pay attention to will be what happens next: whether or not Shazam! Fury of the Gods fades even further as it stays in theaters — surely it can’t drop as much in its second weekend as Ant-Man 3 — or proves to have a surprising longevity over the next few weeks… and, maybe most importantly, whether or not the much-anticipated, and much-hyped The Flash is going to similarly underperform when it hits theaters in June.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods is in theaters now. Buy tickets on Fandango or Atom Tickets.

Want to meet two members of the Shazamily for yourself? Zachary Levi and Grace Caroline Currey will be at Florida Supercon this year.