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DC’s ‘Black Adam’: Dwayne Johnson breaks box-office record

Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Films’ “Black Adam” rocked the domestic box office this weekend with $67 million in ticket sales, according to estimates from measurement firm Comscore, marking Dwayne Johnson’s biggest North American debut as a leading man.

Opening in second place was Universal Pictures’ “Ticket to Paradise,” which exceeded expectations slightly by grossing $16.3 million in the U.S. and Canada — a solid start for a romantic comedy released in October.

Still going strong and rounding out the top three was Paramount Pictures’ “Smile,” which scared up $8.4 million in its fourth weekend for a North American cumulative of $84.3 million.

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, “Black Adam” tells the origin story of its titular hero (Johnson), also known as Teth-Adam, whose powers include flight, superhuman strength, invulnerability, enhanced speed and the ability to shoot lightning. The film’s supporting cast includes Aldis Hodge as Hawkman, Pierce Brosnan as Dr. Fate, Noah Centineo as Atom Smasher and Quintessa Swindell as Cyclone.

The comic-book adaptation received a dismal 40% rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes and a B-plus grade from audiences polled by CinemaScore.

DC fans have been patiently waiting for Black Adam’s big-screen debut since 2014, when Johnson was cast in the coveted role. Back then, Warner Bros. was planning to launch the character alongside his rival, Shazam (Zachary Levi), in the same movie. That strategy was abandoned, however, and “Shazam!” hit theaters in 2019 sans Black Adam.

“While massive global star Johnson is clearly the box office draw, dramatic roles aren’t his forte, and that’s especially clear here as he delivers a dour and dark dramatic performance that’s lacking his natural charisma,” writes film critic Katie Walsh for the Los Angeles Times.

“Surprisingly, he’s the weak link. … The director does heroic work crafting a film around Johnson that is fast and entertaining, tossing needle drops and skateboard stunts and movie references and zombies and funny uncles and fire demons in the mix just to keep us somewhat distracted from the void that is Black Adam himself.”

Helmed by Ol Parker, “Ticket to Paradise” stars beloved Hollywood duo George Clooney and Julia Roberts as a divorced couple who end up vacationing together in Bali. The supporting cast includes Kaitlyn Dever, Billie Lourd, Maxime Bouttier and Lucas Bravo.

The feel-good film earned a lackluster 55% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an A-minus grade from moviegoers polled by CinemaScore. Notably, 64% of the audience for “Ticket to Paradise” was older than 35 — an impressive turnout for a demographic that is generally less likely to show up at theaters.

“‘Ticket to Paradise’ doesn’t invest enough time or energy into the young lovers for you to care whether or not they make it to the altar,” writes The Times’ Glenn Whipp.

“This movie is all about beautiful people, gorgeous scenery and the elders rekindling their romance … and the time it takes for them to realize their biggest mistake wasn’t their marriage, but their divorce.”

In fourth and fifth place at the domestic box office this weekend were Universal Pictures’ “Halloween Ends,” which suffered an 80% drop in ticket sales and made $8 million in its second weekend for a North American cumulative of $54.2 million; and Sony Pictures’ “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile,” which collected $4.2 million in its third weekend for a North American cumulative of $28.7 million.

Opening in wide release this coming weekend are Focus Features’ “Tár” and Lionsgate’s “Prey for the Devil.”


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