Warner Bros. DC’s “Blue Beetle” has ended the month-long reign of fellow Warner title “Barbie” atop the box office charts and left fellow newbie “Strays” far behind, but “Beetle’s” opening weekend is falling below projections at $25.4 million from 3,871 locations.
Prior to release, the family-oriented Latino superhero film was projected for a $28-32 million launch — similar to the $30.1 million opening of “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” in March — with the hopes that strong word-of-mouth would allow it to leg out through Labor Day weekend and possibly beyond.
Instead, audience metrics have been good but not excellent, as “Blue Beetle” has received a B+ on CinemaScore and Posttrak scores of 4/5 from general audiences and 5/5 from families. By comparison, “Shazam 2” also had a B+ on CinemaScore and Posttrak scores of 3.5/5 GA and 4.5/5 from families.
“Blue Beetle” may be able to find some sustained turnout from families and Gen Z moviegoers, but with a reported production budget of at least $104 million before marketing, the film really needed stronger audience reception for hope that it would get the legs that it needs.
The release of “Blue Beetle” was hampered by the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike. Strike rules block the film’s Latino cast, led by “Cobra Kai” star Xolo Maridueña, from promoting the film. Actors are on strike to put financial pressure on studios to reach a deal that provides significant minimum rate increases to meet inflation and cost of living in Los Angeles, stronger compensation for streaming and protections on consent and compensation for AI use.
But the general disinterest in “Blue Beetle” outside of its core demographics of Latinos, families and DC devotees can also be attributed to the recent streak of poorly received DC films like “Shazam 2,” “Black Adam” and “The Flash,” along with Warner’s plans to reboot DC in 2025 under new DC Studios head James Gunn.
Warner Bros. still has one more film from DC’s current movie continuity to release: “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” this December. The first “Aquaman” is one of the highest-ever grossing films for DC with $1.14 billion grossed globally, but the current apathy towards DC may mean a cold winter for its sequel.
Elsewhere on the charts, Universal’s R-rated comedy “Strays” fell flat with an opening weekend of just $8.3 million from 3,223 theaters, sinking to fifth on the weekend charts.
“Strays” was projected prior to release to earn an opening of $13-15 million, but has instead fallen below the $8.7 million third weekend of Paramount’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem,” which now has a domestic total of $88.5 million.
Like “Blue Beetle,” “Strays” has little sign of long-term audience traction with a B+ on CinemaScore and a 54% Rotten Tomatoes score. With a reported production budget of $46 million, it is the second straight mid-budget misfire from Universal after “The Last Voyage of the Demeter,” which has grossed just $11.3 million through two weekends.
While Warner and Universal suffered such poor openings this weekend, their big hits “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” keep climbing up the charts. “Barbie” added $21.5 million in its fifth weekend, bringing its domestic total to $566 million. That passes “The Dark Knight” for Warner Bros.’ highest domestic total ever before inflation adjustment, and this week it will pass “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” to become the highest domestic grossing film this year.
“Oppenheimer,” meanwhile, added $10.6 million in its fifth weekend and now has totals of $285.2 million domestic and $717.8 million worldwide. That global total is enough to pass the unadjusted total of director Christopher Nolan’s 2014 film “Interstellar,” as well as the global total of Universal’s other big summer release, “Fast X.”