Things were anything but magical at the weekend box office. Shazam! Fury of the Gods, the latest DC Comics sequel, did open at number one on the weekend box-office chart, but with a disappointing $30.5 million. That’s below expectations and pre-release tracking, which predicted the film would gross at least $35-40 million in its first days in theaters.

The film reunited almost all of the original film’s cast, including Zachary Levi as Shazam, Asher Angel as Billy Batson, and Djimon Hounsou as the Wizard who gives them their powers.. It also added Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu as new villains, and it came from much of the same creative team including director David F. Sandberg and producer (and new DC Studios co-CEO) Peter Safran.

But despite all of that, Fury of the Gods didn’t even match the success of the first film. That movie debuted with in 2019 with $53.5 million in its opening weekend. Sequels tend to cost more, and they also are generally expected to gross more than the originals. In the case of Shazam! Fury of the Gods, the new film struggled to debut with half the grosses of the first film. Those are franchise-killing numbers.

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

READ MORE: Our Interview With Shazam! Fury of the Gods Director David F. Sandberg

The new film also fared much worse with critics — Shazam! had a 90 on Rotten Tomatoes compared to 52 for Fury of the Gods — and with regular moviegoers. Paying customers gave the original Shazam! an excellent “A” on CinemaScore, while they gave the new sequel just a so-so “B+.” Nobody seems to like this movie very much.

Here is the full top five at the weekend box office:

  1. Shazam! Fury of the Gods - $30.5 million
  2. Scream VI - $17.5 million
  3. Creed III - $15.3 million
  4. 65 - $5.8 million
  5. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania - $4.0 million

As for why Shazam! 2 stumbled, even though the first movie was a hit and largely well-liked by critics and audiences, there are a few potential reasons. DC has been much more focused on hyping their upcoming slate and new DC Universe; Shazam! is a holdover from the previous DCEU and it sort of felt that way; if you’re the type of fan who really cares about these franchises’ overarching stories, you could safely skip Shazam! and still know what was going on (a perception that the marketing in the final few days was seemingly designed to address, but revealing the movie’s “surprise” cameo by Wonder Woman).

The first Shazam! also did a good job of explaining how the film was unique in a movie landscape dominated by superheroes; it had a teen superhero who gets powers and gets to have fun figuring them out and turning into an adult. The new movie really never had a compelling marketing hook beyond “If you liked Shazam! here is another Shazam.” Based on the reviews and ticket sales, that was not enough to turn Fury of the Gods into a hit.

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