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Movie Monday: Latest Shazam Wins, But Far From Furious

Shazam’s name comes from the magic word the hero shouts to transform. Each letter corresponds to a figure from antiquity from whom Shazam’s power stems. The “S” stands for the wisdom of Solomon, the “H” for the strength of Hercules and so on.

Maybe if that magical name had incorporated an extra letter—another “M” for the money of legendary king Midas—Shazam! Fury of the Gods would’ve done better at the box office.

Now, admittedly, Shazam! Fury of the Gods did win this weekend. It did collect an estimated $30.5 million in North America alone (not to mention another $35 million overseas). And for most of us, that’d be a good weekend’s worth of work. But that’s less than Warner Bros.’ modest opening-weekend expectations for the film, and it’s way off the $53.5 million the original Shazam! opened with in 2019. In an era where superhero sequels are expected to outperform their forebears, that’s … not promising.

We could point to a lot of reasons why Fury of the Gods has gotten off to a not-so-furious start. But looking at the box-office returns for the last few superhero movies, could it be that we’re starting to see superhero movies flagging a bit? Both creatively and commercially?

The first Shazam! nabbed a 90% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to a 52% rating for Fury of the Gods. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (which finished fifth this weekend with $4.1 million) has earned $205.8 million stateside and is struggling to turn a profit. According to Digital Spy, its 47% rating on Rotten Tomatoes ties with Eternals as the worst-reviewed movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And then there’s Black Adam, which was a bomb both critically and commercially.

The lone exception in recent superhero history is Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which critics praised (84% on RT) and has indeed earned plenty of money ($453.8 million in North America, $858.8 million globally.) But even those metrics lag behind its predecessor, Black Panther, in both critical love and cash.

Time will tell if the genre is finally returning to earth. In the meantime, let’s look at the other entrants in the box office’s Top Five.

Scream VI is sounding just a wee bit hoarse, losing more than 60% of its weekend-over-weekend audience to collect $17.5 million in North America. That brings its total up to $76 million. Creed III punched its way to third place with $15.4 million. The sci-fi actioner 65 earned $5.8 million to finish fourth, ahead of the previously mentioned Quantumania.

Oh, and Jesus Revolution is still posting pretty strong returns, banking another $3.5 million to bring its total domestic grosses to $45.5 million.

Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

3 Responses

  1. -I love the first Shazam movie, but I’m not terribly interested in seeing this sequel; none of the trailers have impressed me and most of the attempts at humor in the trailers just didn’t land (especially that Fast & Furious joke in that first trailer). I’m honestly more interested in see 65 if given the chance to.

    Part of me wonders if Shazam FotG’s box office falterings is due to the upcoming reset WB and James Gunn has planned; I can understand why people wouldn’t watch this movie (or the remaining DC movies for 2023) when the franchise is just going to reset anyway.

    1. -A friend of mine elsewhere enjoyed 65, and multiple other people have also speculated that the state of the DC franchise (probably in large part because of Miller) has in turn decreased a lot of consumer interest.