There are a few factors that could be at play here. While the first “Shazam!” movie was very well-received by critics and general audiences alike, with a score of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes and an A CinemaScore from direct audience polling, “Fury of the Gods” has considerably mixed reviews and less-favorable B+ CinemaScore. There’s not necessarily a causal relationship between poor reviews and poor box office performance (though studies have certainly shown a correlation), but the worse a movie is, the harder it is to sell in marketing, and the trailers for “Fury of the Gods” were kind of underwhelming.
Beyond this film specifically, there are also signs that the superhero genre is declining from its former heights. “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” had a big opening weekend, but it was followed by a massive second weekend drop and it now looks like the sequel will end its theatrical run with a lower gross than 2018’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” While “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” wasn’t exactly a box office bomb with its $858.7 million worldwide total, that is almost $500 million less than the first “Black Panther” movie. Similarly, the total for last year’s “Thor: Love and Thunder” ($760 million worldwide) was significantly lower than 2018’s “Thor: Ragnarok” ($858 million). The lingering impact of the pandemic should obviously be taken into consideration, but it’s not stopping other blockbusters from breaking box office records.
Individually, a $30 million opening weekend for “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” is obviously not good news for those hoping to see the character’s continued presence in the freshly-rebranded DC Universe. But looking at the bigger picture, the DC Universe itself may be launching its soft reboot in a box office landscape that’s starting to lose interest in superhero movies.