‘Black Adam’ gives Dwayne Johnson his biggest box office weekend as a leading man

NEW YORK (AP) — Warner Bros. “Black Adam” opened with around $67 million, according to studio estimates on Sunday, giving Dwayne Johnson his biggest box office weekend as a leading man and launching the DC Comics character qu he spent a decade bringing to the big screen.

“Black Adam” was a $200 million bid to upset the balance of power in a DC Extended Universe dominated by Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman. The $67 million debut fell well below that stratosphere, even with the considerable draw of Johnson acting in his first superhero film. Still, “Black Adam” pulled off the highest opening weekend since “Thor: Love and Thunder” debuted with $143 million in July.

“Black Adam,” which stars Johnson as an ancient Egyptian summoned to modern times, was notably hampered by poor reviews (40% new on Rotten Tomatoes). Moviegoers were kinder, giving the film a B+ CinemaScore. It raised $73 million internationally for a worldwide haul of $140 million.

“Black Adam” took a circuitous route to reach theaters. The character was originally slated to cast as a villain in “Shazam!” in 2019. before executives pivoted to give Black Adam a standalone feature. The goofier “Shazam!”, which cost nearly $100 million to make, opened with $53.5 million in ticket sales and was a smash hit with $366 million worldwide.

The stakes were higher for “Black Adam,” however. When promoting the movie, Johnson didn’t hesitate to follow “Black Adam” with a confrontation with Superman. But whether the receipts from “Black Adam” are enough to justify this remains unclear. Under new management, Warner Bros. is revising its approach to DC Comics adaptations.

Jeff Goldstein, head of distribution for Warner Bros., celebrated the results as a personal best for Johnson outside of “Fast & Furious” movies, and a PG-13 movie with broad appeal that audiences responded to better than movies. reviews. Still, it’s a time of transition for Warner Bros. ′ revamping the DC unit as the studio seeks more Marvel-sized hits. Next on tap is “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” in March.

“It’s about making good movies. It’s about finding the right scripts,” Goldstein said. “Our studio is definitely going through a major overhaul in our direction, style, and approach to production. I think we can crack this nut. We are definitely focusing on that.

“Ticket to Paradise,” the Bali rom-com starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney, proved clever counter-programming. The Universal Pictures release debuted with $16.3 million, well above recent sales of romantic comedies, which have struggled in recent years at the box office. The film is already a hit overseas, where it was released last month, grossing $80.2 million in ticket sales.

Earlier this month, Universal’s R-rated “Bros,” an LGBTQ milestone in the genre, debuted with a disappointing $4.8 million. “Ticket to Paradise” had a notable advantage in its two stars and particularly appealed to older audiences; 64% of ticket buyers were 35 and older, the studio said.

“It’s become an event movie for all audiences this weekend, but especially for older audiences who may struggle to get into theaters,” said Jim Orr, head of distribution at Universal. “We all know this is a demographic that doesn’t exactly miss seeing movies on opening weekend. This gives us great encouragement for the weeks and months to come.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for data firm Comscore, noted it was the first weekend with a $65 million opening and more than $100 million in domestic ticket sales since July. Much of that was due to star power, he said, in calling both “Ticket to Paradise” and “Black Adam” with Johnson.

“He was the engine that really drove that box office despite some headwinds in terms of the DC brand and he’s not such a well-known character,” Dergarabedian said. “It’s a really solid starting point for Dwayne Johnson in the DC Comics mix. He’s like a compressor at the box office. Forty percent rotten tomatoes, but people just want to see Dwayne Johnson on the big screen because he is larger than life.

Last week’s top movie, “Halloween Ends,” dropped massively in its second weekend. The Universal horror sequel, which released simultaneously on Peacock, was down 80% with $8 million. Meanwhile, Paramount Pictures’ “Smile” continued to defy the dropouts typical of horror releases. With $8.4 million in its fourth week of release, “Smile” came third and boosted its overall domestic sales to $84.3 million.

As more acclaimed award contenders hit theaters, Searchlight Pictures’ “The Banshees of Inisherin” began its run with one of the best per-theatre averages of the year. The Martin McDonagh drama, starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, debuted with $181,000 in four theaters for a per-theater average of $45,250. For A24, Charlotte Wells’ “Aftersun,” starring Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio as vacationing father and daughter, also debuted solidly in four theaters, averaging $16,589 per theater.

Estimated Friday-Sunday ticket sales at US and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final national figures will be released on Monday.

1. “Black Adam,” $67 million.

2. “Ticket to Paradise,” $16.3 million.

3. “Smile,” $8.4 million

4. “Halloween is over,” $8 million.

5. “Lyle, Lyle Crocodile,” $4.2 million.

6. “The Woman King,” $1.9 million.

7. “Terrify 2,” $1.9 million.

8. “Don’t worry honey,” $880,000.

9. Amsterdam, $811,000.

10. “Triangle of sadness”, $600,000.


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