Rumor: Warner Bros. Partially Blames DC Studios Head James Gunn For Failure Of ‘Shazam! Fury Of The Gods’

Shazam (Zachary Levi) opens up to his pediatrician in Shazam Fury of the Gods (2023), Warner Bros. Entertainment 2

You can’t have it both ways — that’s often an unbendable rule in life — but Warner Bros. sure is going to try. Shazam! Fury of the Gods tanked hard at the box office and is an unmitigated disaster for the studio. Though already on digital, the film is far from breaking even worldwide and will lose in the range of $100 million.

The Wizard (Djimon Hounsou) abruptly interrupts Billy’s (Asher Angel) dream in Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023), Warner Bros. Entertainment

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As its performance was potentially hampered by a lack of stakes and a changing of the guard at DC, WB is passing the blame for the debacle on the guy they hired to fix their comic book movie brand — James Gunn. A report from The Wrap claims that anonymous insiders think Gunn’s DCU plans did not help matters.

“Insiders at Warner Bros. told The Wrap that meeting the $35 million projection mark would have been seen by the studio as a solid result, but believe that the upcoming reboot did a number on general audience interest that Gunn and Safran’s work will be able to overcome when it arrives,” the report says of WB’s already lowered expectations.

Mary Marvel (Grace Caroline Currey) reminds Shazam (Zachary Levi) that he broke the Wizard’s staff in Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023), Warner Bros. Pictures

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The $35M projection was well below the numbers its prequel made in 2019, to begin with, but the first weekend fell short by $5M dollars — not even getting over the low bar. Shazam 2 came out of its opening weekend with $30.5M domestically and $65.5M internationally. For those keeping score, that’s lower than Birds of Prey — which had the pandemic to worry about.

WB hadn’t completely flipped the table on the DCEU either, so 2019’s Shazam didn’t have the same concerns when it managed to rake in $367.3M worldwide. That’s nothing to sneeze at compared to other entries such as Aquaman and Man of Steel, but Shazam! had a smaller budget and made a $74M profit for itself — unlike Black Adam.

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In a recent video, YouTuber Ryan Kinel points out that the insiders’ conclusion placing blame on James Gunn doesn’t add up when Black Adam flopped before Gunn and Peter Safran were installed as DC Studio Chiefs. Despite the former’s admission that he was writing a Superman movie all along, they wouldn’t make their plans public for another three months.

Kinel adds the argument that Shazam 2 was dead in the water, thus prompting the audience’s lack of interest, doesn’t hold up either. Nobody knew Joker was going to be a hit, or even get a sequel, but it became a billion-dollar movie.

Black Adam (Dwayne Johnson) and Hawkman (Aldis Hodge) about to settle their differences in Black Adam (2022), Warner Bros. Pictures

The writing was on the wall for Shazam 2 and the DCEU long before its release date. So much so that even director David F. Sandberg saw the end result coming, but luckily he had the consolation of an upfront paycheck.

“No worries. It’s not like this comes as a surprise. I saw where this was heading a long time ago. I’ll be alright though. I got paid all my money upfront [smiley emoji],” he said in a Reddit. The director’s comment has since been deleted, but Sandberg would also address the film’s box office result on Twitter.

“The director of Shazam has also been following you on Twitter for a long time [smiley emoji] That’s not what I meant. I meant I knew what the boxoffice tracking was looking like. The pay comment was just me being cheeky, hence the [smiley emoji],” he wrote in response to a tweet pointing out the director knew the movie would not perform well.

David F. Sandberg addresses Shazam! Fury of the Gods box office flop via Twitter

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