Black Adam’s box office underperformed, and the DCU movie is now losing money for Warner Bros. and DC. Here’s what happened and what it means.
The hierarchy of the DC Universe might not have changed, as Black Adam‘s box office took a turn for the worse and will reportedly lose money for Warner Bros. Discovery. Leading up to the DC movie’s release in late 2022, expectations were high that Dwayne Johnson’s first superhero movie could be a big hit. Black Adam‘s box office started off quite strong amid mixed reviews, leaving optimism that the film would be financially profitable for WBD and DC Studios. The change in leadership at DC Studios once again put pressure on Black Adam to perform and show James Gunn and Peter Safran that audiences wanted more.
Unfortunately for Black Adam and Dwayne Johnson, the movie is no longer expected to be a financial win for Warner Bros. or DC. The latest reports state that Black Adam is a financial loss for the studios, as the sub-$400 million worldwide box office means it will lose roughly $100M. The movie is already out digitally and is coming to the end of its theatrical run domestically, even as the film recently opened in some international territories, like Japan. The best-case scenario for Black Adam‘s box office is it manages to squeeze past the $400M mark, but that still makes it the fourth-lowest-grossing DCU movie.
What Went Wrong With Black Adam’s Box Office After Its Good Start
The problems with Black Adam‘s box office started a few weeks after its debut. The movie had a strong opening weekend, which was not only a career-best for Dwayne Johnson as a leading man but also the best for DC in a few years. It was even comparable to Aquaman‘s box office, which made $1.1 billion worldwide to become the highest-grossing DCU movie to date. Black Adam could not maintain the legs that Aquaman had, though. This can partially be attributed to worse reviews, but Black Panther: Wakanda Forever‘s release also quickly pushed the DC film to the side. Marvel’s superhero movie managed to outgross Black Adam in one week.
The reason that Black Adam‘s box office will lose money for Warner Bros. is the film’s underwhelming performance internationally. While the movie was not a huge hit domestically, it is still a top 10 earner for the year. Black Adam has not reached this milestone worldwide and will not as it had a tepid reception in some key international countries, Japan included. It did not help that Black Adam was denied a release in China, where The Rock’s movies have traditionally over-performed. A release in China may have helped Dwayne Johnson’s DC movie at least break even.
What Black Adam Losing Money Means For DC’s Future
It is not a good sign for DC’s future that Black Adam lost money at the box office. The film becomes another example of a movie that failed to reach or exceed expectations financially. This is especially troubling for the future of the Black Adam franchise. Dwayne Johnson made it quite clear he had plans for sequels and spinoffs centered on the Justice Society. These would be quite likely to happen if Black Adam was a massive success at the box office and got audiences invested in what is to come. Black Adam‘s box office performance indicates that is not necessarily the case.
Black Adam losing money also makes it less of a guarantee that Dwayne Johnson’s anti-hero will be a key character moving forward. The actor might not have as much leverage with DC Studios’ new leadership after this performance. There was already some potential that the DCU’s future changing would shift what Johnson wanted to do after Black Adam, such as fighting Superman. Now that James Gunn and Peter Safran are kicking off their tenure by inheriting a movie that underperformed financially, they will certainly re-evaluate what needs to happen next. That could include making changes to Black Adam’s portrayal or future.
Furthermore, Black Adam‘s box office performance is another sign that DC Studios needs to get audiences fully on-board with the DCU and its characters. Not only is it another example of DC not being able to turn anyone who is not a main Justice League hero into franchise leads, but it continues a trend that interest in the main timeline is not high. The Batman and Joker are two of DC’s most successful films financially but do not exist in the DCU. Instead, both launched franchises of their own. Black Adam losing money is a reminder that the DCU must figure out how to draw viewers to the main entries of the shared universe. Otherwise, DC could be better off abandoning the shared universe model entirely.