After spending more than a decade in development, Dwayne Johnson’s “Black Adam” is finally taking flight. The DC Comics and Warner Bros. superhero movie earned $7.6 million at the domestic box office in Thursday previews from over 3,500 theaters.
The strong Thursday launch bodes well for the film, and it’s tracking higher than last year’s “F9,” which had $7.1 million in previews and a $70 million opening weekend, and fellow DC film “Shazam,” $5.9 million in previews for a $53.5 million opening weekend in 2019.
The comic book villain is expected to have a hero-sized landing this weekend with an estimated $60 million debut. That will be enough to dethrone last week’s No. 1 movie, Universal’s “Halloween Ends,” and this week’s newcomer, “Ticket to Paradise,” a Universal rom-com starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts that’s targeting a $15 million launch.
“Black Adam,” produced by New Line Cinema, Seven Bucks Productions, Flynn Picture Company and DC Films, has a mighty $195 million price tag, so it’ll need to stick around in theaters to turn a profit. It won’t face much competition at the box office, though, until “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” the next superhero tentpole, releases on Nov. 11. The film will inject some life into the slow box office, and it should mark the first movie to open above $50 million since July’s “Thor: Love and Thunder.”
Johnson suits up in his superhero debut as the all-powerful comic book villain, who awakens after 5,000 years to face the Justice Society of America, which includes Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) and Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell). Reviews have been mixed, but faithful DC fans will likely turn out in droves to see the next installment in the comic-book universe.
Johnson has also already been hyping up a Black Adam-Superman showdown in a potential sequel — perhaps wishful thinking for a follow-up or strategic promotion to get theatergoers to check out this relatively unknown character. To put it in perspective, “The Batman” had an opening weekend of $134 million in March and “Thor: Love and Thunder” had $143 million in July. Last year’s DC film “The Suicide Squad” made $26 million, though it released simultaneously on HBO Max. Thanks to Johnson’s star power, “Black Adam’s” debut will be a step up from “The Suicide Squad,” but nowhere near the heights of other beloved heroes.
Outside of the superhero realm, “Ticket to Paradise” opened domestically with $1.1 million in previews from 3,000 theaters. It’s already been a hit overseas, and it’s scored $72.6 million internationally. The star power of Clooney and Roberts certainly helps; they play two exes who must come back together to stop their daughter from foolishly marrying someone.