While Black Adam has long been deemed a failure for DC, the projects released after the Dwayne Johnson-led film somewhat lessen the blow of its flop.
- Black Adam’s disappointing box office performance and poor critical reception made it a failure in the eyes of many, despite conflicting reports on its financial success or loss for Warner Bros.
- Subsequent DC movies released after Black Adam performed even worse at the box office, overshadowing the film’s initial failure.
- The continuous turmoil and lack of direction in the DCEU, coupled with mediocre movies and inflated budgets, contributed to the struggles of these subsequent releases. Black Adam’s failure can be seen as the beginning of the downfall of the franchise.
Black Adam’s $393 million box office failure has somehow been made to look like less of a bomb a year after three other DCEU releases. The Dwayne Johnson-led film was released in October 2022 to middling critical reception. The overblown action sequences, lack of a tight script, thin story, and poor character development meant that Black Adam was a disappointment for those excited to see the so-called shift in the hierarchy of the DCEU’s power.
This reaction led to a poor commercial run for the film, made even worse by its billing as the first step in an exciting new direction for DC. What was expected to lead into Black Adam 2’s story and the resurrection of the DCEU instead heralded the beginning of the end for the franchise given the announcement of James Gunn’s DC Universe reboot only a week after the film’s release. Despite the failure of Black Adam which saw only a $393 million worldwide gross against a $260 million budget, subsequent releases from the DCEU in the year after the film’s release somehow shine a more positive light on the Johnson-led blockbuster.
Black Adam’s Disappointing Box Office Performance & Loss Debate Explained
While many deem Black Adam a complete box office failure, there have been conflicting reports that have created somewhat of a debate over how much money the film lost, or even if it resulted in a loss for Warner Bros. at all. Black Adam has a reported production budget of between $190 million and $260 million. A report by Variety near the end of Black Adam‘s theatrical run listed the film’s production cost as $195 million while stating the film cost WB anywhere between $80 million and $100 million to market.
This report drew the conclusion that, given Black Adam‘s costs, the film would need to gross around $600 million worldwide just to break even meaning it would end its theatrical run with a total loss of $50-$100 million. However, only a few days after this report, Deadline released an inquiry into Black Adam‘s box office fiasco. This report stated that, in light of the film’s box office haul, the ancillary revenues from PVOD (premium video on demand) combined with no one involved in Black Adam‘s production receiving first-dollar gross meant that the film actually made a minimum profit of $52 million for WB.
That said, another twist in the tale of Black Adam‘s revenue came with yet another report from Puck (via The Direct). This exploration stated that Johnson’s team had fed Deadline inaccurate financial information to make it seem as though Black Adam turned a profit. These many conflicting reports make it difficult to clarify exactly how much the film did or did not lose. Regardless, a best-case scenario of $52 million in profit for WB that comes primarily from home video is not exactly a win, meaning that either way, Black Adam
The reason for this simply comes from the DCEU’s state of turmoil upon the film’s release. Since 2017’s Justice League, the franchise had too many cooks in the kitchen from directors to writers and studio executives who were all pulling DC films in separate directions, Johnson included. This led to much fatigue with the DCEU that contributed to Black Adam‘s failure when combined with the competition it faced from other wide releases like Black Panther: Wakanda Forever only a few weeks after the former’s opening weekend.
Every DC Movie After Black Adam Has Performed Far Worse At The Box Office
All that being said, despite conflicting reports and the film’s failure, Black Adam has somehow been made to look like more of a success given the performance of every other DC movie that has been released since then. The next release after Black Adam was Shazam! Fury of the Gods in March 2023. The sequel to the 2019 film earned less than half of Black Adam‘s total worldwide haul, pulling in $133 million against a budget of $125 million and resulting in another major flop for Warner Bros. and the DCEU.
What seemed a certain banker for success in the DCEU followed in June 2023 when The Flash was released. Regardless of the controversy surrounding many aspects of The Flash‘s production, Warner Bros. was reportedly confident of the film’s success as evidenced by a huge marketing push. That said, The Flash earned a worldwide total of only $270 million against an inflated $220 million budget that saw a prospected loss of over $200 million for WB. Finally, there was Blue Beetle in August 2023, a film doomed to fail by WB’s clear lack of marketing. This film grossed only $129 million against a $104 million budget.
Each of these subsequent DCEU releases after Black Adam somehow made the latter film’s release less of a disaster. While Black Adam
Why Other DC Movies Have Struggled Even More Than Black Adam
Given the endless slew of DC failures of late, it is worth exploring why subsequent releases have somehow struggled more than Black Adam did. The main cause is likely the faltering DC brand caused by years of a franchise in turmoil. The endless meddling, switching tones, conflicting reports, and subpar movies released as part of the DCEU meant that the franchise could never dominate the box office in the same way its main rival, the MCU, did. This was only worsened by Black Adam‘s mediocrity after it was hailed as the savior of the franchise meaning the 2022 movie’s failure likely directly contributed to the even bigger flops of 2023.
Furthermore, a project like The Flash had its own issues from Ezra Miller’s controversies to reshoots and delays that meant it was doomed to fail given a lack of audience interest and an inflated budget. When concerning Blue Beetle, the film centers on a relatively unknown character to those unfamiliar with DC Comics. To make matters worse, the cast could not promote the film further due to the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes at the time of its release. As such, DC’s failures in 2023 only continued after Black Adam with the latter somewhat benefiting from Dwayne Johnson’s star power despite its commercial flop.
Aquaman 2 Should Beat Black Adam (But Has Its Own Major Problems)
This stretch of failure for WB and the DCEU has led many to look forward, wondering where the next major DC success will come from. The likely answer is the first installment in James Gunn’s rebooted DCU, though the final film in the DCEU – Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom – has a chance of besting Black Adam‘s worldwide total. The first Aquaman was DC’s last true success in 2018 when the film earned just over $1 billion worldwide meaning the sequel will likely be boosted as a result.
However, Aquaman 2 has its own share of problems. An insight into the film’s troubled production was released by The Hollywood Reporter in which an immediate issue with Aquaman 2‘s budget was highlighted. According to the report, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom was greenlit with a $205 million budget with that number coming before three batches of reshoots. These reshoots not only mean the film’s already huge budget will have increased but highlight the poor state the film has been in concerning quality to require three attempts at “fixing” it.
Then there is the issue of Batman. The reintegration of Michael Keaton’s Batman into the DCEU via The Flash and the canceled Batgirl film meant he was set for a role in Aquaman 2 before reshoots replaced him with Ben Affleck’s version. The latest cut of the film reportedly features neither which may benefit the story of Jason Momoa’s King of Atlantis yet emulates the worrying, constant changes in the film’s story and production. Finally, there is the confusing state of the DC Universe as a whole.
It is still not clear which characters or actors will survive Gunn’s reboot with Aquaman 2 releasing right before this takes place. The Flash was supposed to transition between what was the DCEU and what will be the DCU, but the film’s ending only confused the timeline of the universes more. Aquaman 2 will likely be no different, meaning the film – while it may be a success commercially – has to contend with being the final installment of one universe and the bridge to another. This is not to mention the film’s lack of marketing thus far, rounding off the elements that raise cause for concern over Aquaman 2‘s release.
Does The Rock’s Black Adam Have Any DC Future?
All of this begs the question of whether Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam has any DC future. Based on a Twitter post from Johnson himself, it seems unlikely. Johnson confirmed that Black Adam would not be part of Gunn’s first DCU chapter which was to be expected given the failure of the film and the endless debates over its success, or lack thereof. Gunn’s reboot will essentially completely change what was seen in the DCEU, with new Justice League actors, new stories, and fresh ideas. As such, Black Adam‘s 2022 failure may be the last audiences see of The Rock’s Teth-Adam as the hierarchy of power in DC shifts once again.