Early projections for Warner Bros.’ next DC Extended Universe film Shazam! are in and they are decidedly low though the numbers are not outside the brand’s ballpark.

Box Office Pro is putting the David F. Sandberg picture’s weekend earnings between $40 and 60 million. This is within range of Aquaman’s early projections which also bore the mark of low expectations.

Box Office Pro’s projections don’t automatically suggest Shazam! will be small potatoes but they’re not without cause. The site predicts a rocky performance at theaters due to a number of factors, specifically competition.

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Shazam! opens on April 5th in a tricky spot against the Pet Sematary remake and Taraji P. Henson’s next starring vehicle, The Best of Enemies, also starring Sam Rockwell. The lighthearted superhero flick is expected to trounce those but by a small margin. Pet Sematary, at the high end, reaches within $10 million of Shazam!.

But competition is not limited to opening weekend and it will be a crowded spring at the movies. Box Office Pro notes Tim Burton’s live-action Dumbo comes out the week before and might take some of the disposable income belonging to families and young audiences Shazam! could get.

Avengers: Endgame, a Disney release like Dumbo, will flank Warner three weeks later and no doubt will be an irresistible force. Such a gambit, encircling the DCEU release as it does, presents quite a challenge.

Then there is another big variable, that other Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers. Marvel’s next installment in its unstoppable juggernaut of a Cinematic Universe hits at the beginning of March. It is anticipated to break records and rake in $140-$180 million, according to BOP.

Captain Marvel is a female-led superhero epic with ties to the MCU’s roots. Both factors are thought to give it an edge. And at this rate, Marvel’s Captain enjoys more recognition among fans and casual moviegoers than DC’s Shazam, the original Captain Marvel.

Aquaman’s splash wasn’t projected to be as big as it ended up being. Nevertheless, the DCEU feature broke records and became the highest-grossing DC film ever. Granted, that was due to international audiences but the film still overcame doubts, a lack of public familiarity with the character compared to others, and the prevalent preconception the Atlantean is a joke.

There’s no reason Shazam can’t do the same. Billy Batson just has his work cut out for him in April.

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Writer, journalist, comic reader. I cover DC. Fan since Batman TAS was brand new. Favorite character: Swamp Thing.

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