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Atlanta-Filmed "Black Adam" on Track of Losing Money

Dwayne Johnson Jungle Cruise

NEW YORK - April 8, 2017: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson attends the premiere of "The Fate Of The Furious" at Radio City Music Hall on April 8, 2017, in New York. (JStone / Shutterstock.com)

According to reports, Atlanta-filmed ‘Black Adam’ is in danger of losing money at the box office.

"Black Adam" has not had a successful box office run, making only $387 million globally after seven weeks.

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That may seem like a fortune, especially during COVID when movies are having struggles grossing what they did pre-pandemic. However, "Black Adam" didn't come cheap; it cost $195 million to produce. It's a comic book adventure starring Dwayne Johnson as a villain who once promised to change the power dynamic in the Warner Bros. DC universe.

According to knowledgeable individuals, a big-budget movie led by Johnson (one of the biggest movie stars in the world) requires a worldwide marketing spend of $100 million. The film features Johnson playing against type as a murderous antihero. Insiders at Warner Bros., however, claim that COVID caused box office limitations, forcing them to scale back the global advertising campaign budget to only $80 million.

According to sources aware of the financial status, the film needed to earn $600 million worldwide to at least break even. Turning a profit would require surpassing that high number, something box office experts do not believe will happen with "Black Adam" earning less than $400 million globally. This is an issue because theater owners get to keep approximately half of those sales. The movie is predicted to lose $50 million to $100 million during its theatrical run, according to rival executives with knowledge of similar productions and insider estimates. Those at Warner Bros. dispute those numbers, saying the movie will break even after reaching $400 million in total revenue. When the film was commissioned and first budgeted, they estimated that it would need to make $450 million to incorporate all production costs-- but given recent changes in home entertainment landscapes where "Black Adam" has done better than expected-- that figure has dropped. With a shorter window between theatrical release and home entertainment, ancillary revenue streams have become more profitable. Thanks to pandemic-era concessions, films hit home entertainment platforms in 33 days rather than 75, which reduces the money needed to revive marketing campaigns for a digital launch. With ancillary revenues, sources at Warner Bros. say that the film is poised to get into the black.

"Black Adam," unfortunately, isn't the moneymaker that DC was anticipating when they greenlit it in 2019. Theaters are only one part of the profit; there are also TV and Pay one deal, but box office sales indicate those downstream terms. Even with premium video-on-demand purchases, which could earn an extra $25-$35 million, "Black Adam" doesn't look like it will be in the black by the time it premieres on HBO Max.

Many movies don't make any profit when they first come out in theaters and have to depend on selling themselves as DVDs, rentals, and other merchandise to earn money. Also, sometimes a movie can be worth a lot even though it didn't make much money initially because it establishes something called intellectual property.

Many big-budgeted films, such as Disney's "Strange World" and Pixar's "Lightyear," have not been able to recover their production costs due to the pandemic. Director David O. Russell's star-studded film "Amsterdam" and Lionsgate disaster thriller "Moonfall" also fall into this category of movies that have failed to profit in theaters. Even as COVID cases go down and society returns to normalcy, the movie theater business has yet to rebound. This is a severe issue for mega-budgeted films because they require high attendance numbers to be successful.

Unlike other superhero origin story films set in the DC Universe, "Black Adam" did not have the box office draw to match its enormous budget. The film grossed $67 million upon release in October, a fair but unimpressive number compared to 2018's "Aquaman," which opened at $67.8 million, and 2019's "Shazam!", making $53.5 million in ticket sales on its opening weekend.

Mixed reviews and average word-of-mouth didn't help the film's appeal, so it struggled to expand beyond comic book fans. So far, it has generated $165 million in North America and $219 million internationally. Like most Hollywood films, its overseas box office has been limited because China and Russia have cut off access to the film.

In contrast, "Aquaman" collected $335 million in North America. Even though "Shazam" completed its theatrical run with only $140 million domestically, it cost less to produce- about $100 million as opposed to "Black Adam" 's production budget of around $200 million. Other DC properties that debuted during the pandemic include: "Wonder Woman 1984," which earned approximately

$164 mil while releasing on HBO Max; "The Suicide Squad," making almost as much as WW84 at 165 mills and also released on HBO Max; lastly, Matt Reeves' long-awaited film project debuting this past October-"The Batman"- presented a solid return of 770 million dollars worldwide.

"Black Adam" held the No. 1 spot for three weeks, but sales declined by 60% in its second weekend. When "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" premiered on Nov. 11, it quickly surpassed the competition with a $140 million domestic debut. Johnson, needing no further reminder of his brilliance, took to Twitter to celebrate those record-setting results. "Always rooting for our business to win," he wrote. "We all benefit overall when the box office flourishes."

"Wakanda Forever" brought in almost as much money globally within three days ($331 million) as "Black Adam" did after four weeks total. The significant difference between the box office numbers of Marvel's "Black Panther 2" and DC's "Black Adam" showed only how uninterested moviegoers are in the latter.

Jaume Collet-Serra directed "Black Adam," in which Dwayne Johnson plays an antihero freed from imprisonment after nearly 5,000 years. His bad habits land him on the radar of the Justice Society of America, whose members include Hawkman (Aldis Hodge) and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo), who try to teach him to be a hero. It's evident that based on ticket sales, audiences don't share Dwayne Johnson's enthusiasm for a sequel to "Black Adam."

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