‘Shazam!’ debuts with $53.5 million, handing DC Comics a winNEW YORK - Seven films in, the DC Extended Universe is finally flying with some wind behind its back.
The well-reviewed, relatively modestly budgeted “Shazam!” debuted with $53.5 million in ticket sales over the weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday, handing DC its latest critical and box-office success.
Though one of the oldest characters in DC’s superhero stable, “Shazam!” doesn’t boast the name-recognition of Batman or Superman.
But by scaling back to a $100 million budget and going for the lighter, comic tone, “Shazam!” steadily built up its word of mouth with stellar reviews. Warner Bros. also showed the film nationwide two weeks before opening, where it made $3 million in advance screenings.
It’s a solid start for “Pet Sematary,” though far from the haul that the last big-screen adaptation of King’s conjured up: “It” opened with $123.4 million in 2017.
Last week’s top film, “Dumbo,” slid steeply in its second week. Landing in third, the Disney live-action remake dropped 60 percent with $18.2 million.
Earlier in the week, Warner Bros. also teased the DC release “Joker,” with Joaquin Phoenix, at CinemaCon.
An even smaller-budgeted origin story with a similarly unique, albeit much darker, tone; it was one of the most talked-about movies at the Las Vegas event.
Overseas, “Shazam!” grossed $102 million in 79 markets, including $30.9 million in China.
“DC has really found its groove,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. “They’re really breaking out each character. Shazam and the Joker could not be two more different characters within the DC Universe. But I think that diversity of content is going to serve them well.”
Dergarabedian noted the two most dominant genres in movies right now - superheroes and horror - swamped theaters over the weekend, taking up four of the top five spots at the box office.
The stiff competition in similar-styled holdovers could have slightly depressed results for both “Shazam!” and “Pet Sematary.” But right now, there’s scant room on the calendar between major comic book films and horror releases.
In fourth was Jordan Peele’s horror thriller “Us,” which added $13.8 million in its third week. Its cumulative global total stands at $216.6 million.
Marvel’s Brie Larson-led “Captain Marvel,” which recently crossed $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales, took in $12.7 million domestically in its fifth weekend.
Captain Marvel, ironically, was Shazam’s original name when the character was first crafted, as a Superman knockoff, in 1939.
He was relaunched in 1973 as Shazam after decades of lawsuits and the debut of Marvel’s very own Captain Marvel.
The weekend’s other wide-release newcomer was STX Entertainment’s “Best of Enemies,” starring Taraji P. Henson as a civil rights activist and Sam Rockwell as a Ku Klux Klan leader. It opened with $4.5 million.
In limited release, Claire Denis’s “High Life,” starring Robert Pattinson, opened with about $100,000 in four theaters for A24.