DC and New Line Cinema’s Shazam! Fury of the Gods is hoping for some heavenly help when opening this weekend in thousands of theaters across the U.S. and world.
According to prerelease tracking, the superhero pic is expected to start off with $35 million-plus in North America, compared to the $53.5 million domestic debut of Shazam! in 2019, not adjusted for inflation. No major Hollywood studios sets out to make a sequel that doesn’t match the first, leaving many to wonder whether tracking is being too conservative in this instance.
Yet families — which played a key role in the first movie’s performance — remain a challenged moviegoing demo in the pandemic era.
Fury of the Gods is the 12th installment in the DC Extended Universe, and the first to be released since filmmaker James Gunn and Shazam! producer Peter Safran were named co-heads of DC Studios, home of some of the most iconic superheroes in comic book history (beginning with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman).
Like rival Marvel Studios, DC is also mining lessor known superheroes, such as Shazam.
Should Fury of the Gods actually come in at $35 million it could also raise concerns about superhero fatigue. In recent weeks, Marvel and Disney’s threequel Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania debuted to a relatively tepid $106.1 million domestically before suffering the worst sophomore drop off of any film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Shazam 2‘s villains are the Daughters of Atlas, a trio of ancient goddesses who have come to Earth to reclaim the magical powers that the wizard Shazam (Djimon Hounsou) took from them. Naturally, defeating the villains is up to Billy Batson aka Shazam (Asher Angel/Zachary Levi), along with his extended family/fellow superheroes Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer/Adam Brody), Eugene (Ian Chen/Ross Butler), Darla (Faithe Herman/Meagan Good), Pedro (Jovan Armand/D.J. Cotrona) and Mary (Grace Caroline Currey, playing both the regular and superhero versions of her character with a change of hairstyle).
The goddesses Hespera, Kalypso and Anthea are played by Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu and, in her first film since her breakout role in Spielberg’s West Side Story, Rachel Zegler.
David F. Sandberg directed Shazam! Fury of the Gods from a script by Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan.
Fury of the Gods also comes as the future of the DC characters and actors introduced before Gunn and Safran’s takeover hang in the balance. Superman actor Henry Cavill, for instance, won’t be returning. Levi addressed his future at Tuesday’s Hollywood premiere, telling : “I’m very happy with this movie … I hope it’s not my last.”