DC’s BLUE BEETLE pushed BARBIE aside after four weeks to take the top spot on the box office charts. BLUE BEETLE’s $25.4M this weekend was the second lowest opening among the 14 movies to date from the DC Extended Universe, with only WONDER WOMAN 1984 earning less with $16.7M in its debut beginning on Christmas Day in 2020, at the height of the pandemic. It’s also worth noting that Warner Bros. chose to release WW1984 simultaneously in theatres and on HBO Max streaming.
BLUE BEETLE’s storyline focuses on the fictional character of Jaime Reyes, who first appeared in 2005 in a DC comic book titled “Infinite Crisis.” After graduating high school, Jaime is chosen as the human host of the mystical “Scarab,” an ancient alien biotechnological relic that turns him into the superhero Blue Beetle, empowered with an exoskeleton of armor. Originally, Warner Bros. imagined BLUE BEETLE would arrive on-screen in a direct-to-streaming production for HBO Max, but as production began its profile was raised to a full theatrical exclusive status.
BLUE BEETLE is seen as the first Latino superhero movie, from a story focused on a predominately Latino cast, peppered with Spanish dialogue and touches of Latino culture throughout. The backdrop of Palmera City is based on the Texas border town of El Paso, giving the movie a memorable and unique setting in the same vein as Superman’s Metropolis and Batman’s Gotham City.
A 2019 industry study by the Motion Picture Association identified that Latino Americans make up 19% of the U.S. population but purchased 25% of the movie tickets sold by U.S. theatres. This segment of the overall population has been given short shrift in the media, especially as lead characters in feature films. We applaud Warner Bros. for its decision to tell this Latino American story, and perhaps this was one reason why BLUE BEETLE won the weekend.
BLUE BEETLE has also arrived at a time when the popularity of superhero movies is declining, both with traditional comic book fans and the general moviegoing audience. All three of the most recent DC Studios features have underperformed expectations and lost a significant amount of money.
RECENT WARNER BROS./DC MOVIES
THE FLASH (6/14/2023)
- Box Office: Domestic – $108.1M, International – $160.4M, Worldwide – $268.5M
- Production Budget: $200M
- The ratio of Worldwide Box Office to Production Budget: 1.3
- Estimated Loss: $231.5M
SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS (3/15/2023)
- Box Office: Domestic – $57.6M, International – $76.2M, Worldwide – $133.8M
- Production Budget: $100M
- The ratio of Worldwide Box Office to Production Budget: 1.3
- Estimated Loss: $116.2
BLACK ADAM (10/21/2022)
- Box Office: Domestic – $168.2M, International – $225.1M, Worldwide – $393.3M
- Production Budget: $190M
- The ratio of Worldwide Box Office to Production Budget: 2.1
- Estimated Loss: $81.7
With a production cost of $120M, BLUE BEETLE will need to earn $300M worldwide to reach the widely accepted 2.5X multiple of its production cost that is required to break even. It seems that this may be a heavy lift, based on a so-so start and the downward impact of the actors’ strike which has prohibited the movie’s stars from promoting their picture. On the other hand, the critics have chimed in with mostly positive reviews, and audiences are loving it, with 75% and 92% scores on Rotten Tomatoes respectively.
After four weeks, BARBIE’s supreme reign came to an end after dropping down into second place at the box office earning an additional $21.5M this weekend, and a decline of 36% from last weekend. However, the hit movie of the summer is far from exhausted, even if it is not able to move back into first place in the weeks ahead.
In every week since its record-breaking opening, BARBIE has held up exceptionally well, with week-to-week declines of approximately 40%. After 31 days, the Warner Bros. and Hasbro hit has grossed $567.3M domestic and $1.2B worldwide. By the end of next weekend, BARBIE will surpass the $574.2M earned by THE SUPER MARIO BROS. MOVIE this spring to become the highest-grossing movie of 2023 in the domestic market.
OPPENHEIMER continues its successful march alongside BARBIE to finish third with an additional $10.6M this weekend and a drop of only 44%. Despite losing some of the IMAX screens in the market to BLUE BEETLE, Christopher Nolan’s WW II drama was still able to hold onto much of its audience. Next week, GRAN TURISMO: BASED ON A TRUE STORY will take over even more IMAX screens, while OPPENHEIMER maintains its place at 13 amazing IMAX 70MM screens.
To date, the picture has already earned $285.2M domestically and will likely finish up with $300M. The Barbenheimer duo is on track to gross $900M across the U.S. and Canada, nearly as much as the $936.7M earned by STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS in 2015, which represents the highest-domestic grossing film of all time. This shows the profound financial boost that Barbenheimer has had at the summer box office.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: MUTANT MAYHEM finished fourth with an additional $8.4M and a drop of 45% from last weekend. The turtles have turned out family audiences to the tune of $88.1M domestic and will most likely pass $100M domestic and $150M worldwide by Labor Day weekend. This would make it a profitable venture for Paramount and Nickelodeon and secure the opportunity for another sequel in the future.
Universal’s raunchy R-rated comedy STRAYS opened in a disappointing fifth place with $8.3M. The studio was attempting to re-capitalize on a successful formula it pioneered in 2012 with TED, a wise-cracking stuffed bear loaded with obscene commentary and sexual innuendo. The juxtaposition of the cuddly and the vulgar delivered $54.4M domestic in its opening weekend $549.4M overall for its worldwide run, making it one of the highest-grossing pictures of its year. Three years later, Universal tried again with TED 2 but much of the novelty of the original had worn off, with the worldwide gross coming in at $215.9M, less than 40% of the original.
STRAYS stars Will Ferrell, Jamie Foxx, Will Forte, and Sofia Vergara, and tells the story of a cute, gullible border terrier named Reggie (Ferrell) who is abandoned by his selfish and ruthless owner Doug (Forte), an animal-hating, drug-addicted galoot who never wanted him. Reggie teams up with other strays to get revenge on Doug. Laced with a stream of sexual commentary and saucy language, the core audience for this picture is… fans of cute dogs and vulgarity.
Critics didn’t buy into STRAYS, giving it only 55% on Rotten Tomatoes compared with the 69% TED earned in 2012. After this weekend’s opening disappointment, it seems unlikely to earn the $100M worldwide required for it to be profitable, after spending $46M on its production.
All movies in theatres this weekend earned $99.0M domestic, compared with $81.2M last year when the anime title DRAGON BALL SUPER: SUPER HERO led the way with $21.1M in its opening weekend.
WHERE ARE WE AS OF 8/17
After 32 weeks, the current year-to-date totals are 125% of the amount earned during 2022 through this point and 87% of the amount from 2019.