‘Black Adam’ defeats poor reviews, lands biggest opening weekend since July as Dwayne Johnson finally plays a superhero

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Warner Bros.’ “Black Adam” It opened with an estimated $67 million, according to studio estimates on Sunday, giving Dwayne Johnson his biggest box office weekend as a lead actor and launching the DC Comics character he took a decade to bring to the big screen.

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

“Black Adam,” which stars Johnson as an ancient Egyptian summoned to the present day, was notably hampered by poor reviews (fresh 40% on Rotten Tomatoes). Moviegoers were kinder, giving the film a B+ CinemaScore. It grossed $73 million internationally for a $140 million global run.

“Black Adam” took a tortuous route to reach theaters. Originally, the character had been planned to be released as a villain in Shazam! of 2019 before executives switched to giving Black Adam a standalone feature. Costing close to $100 million to make, the silliest “Shazam!” opened with $53.5 million in ticket sales and ended with a smash hit of $366 million worldwide.

However, the stakes were higher for “Black Adam.” While promoting the film, Johnson hasn’t been shy about his desire to follow up “Black Adam” with a showdown with Superman. But it’s not clear if the receipts from “Black Adam” are enough to guarantee it. Under new leadership, Warner Bros. is reviewing its approach to DC Comics adaptations.

Warner Bros. distribution chief Jeff Goldstein hailed the results as the best for Johnson outside of the “Fast & Furious” movies, and a PG-13 movie with widespread appeal that audiences responded to better than critics. Still, it’s a time of transition for Warner Bros.’ reshuffling the DC unit as the studio looks for more Marvel-sized hits. The next 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 revamp of our production leadership, style and focus. I think we’ll be able to crack this nut. We’re definitely focused on doing that.”

“Ticket to Paradise” the Bali-set romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney proved to be clever counterprogramming. The Universal Pictures release opened to $16.3 million, well above recent sales for romantic comedies, which have struggled in recent years at the box office. Earlier this month, Universal’s R-rated LGBTQ milestone “Bros,” debuted to a disappointing $4.8 million. “Ticket to Paradise” had a noticeable advantage in its two stars, particularly appealing to older audiences; 64% of ticket buyers were age 35 or older, the study said.

“It became an event movie for all audiences this weekend, but especially for older audiences that can be hard to get in theaters,” said Jim Orr, director of distribution for Universal. “We all know that this is a demographic that doesn’t miss movies on opening weekend. That gives us great encouragement for the coming weeks and months.”

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at data firm Comscore, noted that it was the first $65 million opening weekend and more than $100 million in overall domestic ticket sales since July. That was largely due to star power, he said, in the appeal of both “Ticket to Paradise” and Johnson’s “Black Adam.”

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

Last week’s top movie, “Halloween Ends,” dropped massively in its second weekend. Universal’s horror sequel, which opened simultaneously at Peacock, is down 80% at $8 million. Meanwhile, Paramount Pictures’ “Smile” continued to defy the typical slumps of horror releases. With $8.4 million in its fourth week of release, “Smile” ranked third and increased its total 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 movie ratings of the year. the Martin McDonagh drama, starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, It opened with $181,000 in four rooms for a room average of $45,250. for A24, “After the Sun” by Charlotte Wells starring Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio as father and daughter on vacation, it also debuted solidly in four theaters, averaging $16,589 per theater.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at theaters in the US and Canada, 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 Ends,” $8 million.

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

6. “The Woman King,” $1.9 million.

7. “Terrorifier 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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