‘Shazam!’ Surges to $53 Million Box Office Opening

Paramount’s “Pet Sematary” also arrives with $24 million launch

Shazam Zachary Levi

Warner Bros./New Line’s “Shazam!” may not have a superhero with the name recognition of Batman, Wonder Woman, or Aquaman — but it showing box office superpowers with an estimated $53.4 million opening weekend from 4,217 screens.

When advance screenings held two weeks ago by Fandango are factored in, the domestic launch for David F. Sandberg’s superhero film comes in at $56.7 million, with $6 million coming from 405 domestic IMAX screens. That roughly matches the opening weekend for “Ant-Man,” another film with a superhero that had little pre-existing name recognition. Unlike “Ant-Man,” “Shazam” has been reported to have a much cheaper budget of $90-100 million, far lower than the $150 million-plus budgets of most superhero films.

With “Avengers: Endgame” coming in three weeks to blot out all blockbuster competition, “Shazam” needed to build strong word of mouth to get strong holds in the next two weekends. In that regard, it’s mission accomplished as the film has earned a 91% Rotten Tomatoes score and a straight A from audiences on CinemaScore. Opening night audiences skewed slightly younger than they did for “Aquaman,” with 26% under the age of 18 compared to 21% for the undersea blockbuster.

Overseas, “Shazam” grossed $102 million from 79 markets, including $30.9 million from China. The total global launch for the film is $155.5 million, with 8.6% ($13.5 million) coming from global IMAX screens.

Paramount’s “Pet Sematary” finished second at the box office this weekend, earning a $25 million opening from 2,585 screens. That’s the second-highest opening weekend for a Stephen King adaptation, behind the horror record $123 million opening for “It” in 2017.

The good news for the $21 million “Pet Sematary” is that 75% of the audience was under the age of 35, showing that the success of “It” may have increased interest in King adaptation among younger moviegoers on which this film was able to capitalize. The bad news is that word of mouth is not very strong, with a C+ from CinemaScore and a 61% Rotten Tomatoes score, making it likely that the usual steep drop for horror films will be coming next weekend.

A film that suffered such a drop this weekend was Disney’s “Dumbo,” which saw much of its core family demographic peel off for “Shazam.” The Tim Burton film made $18.5 million, dropping 59% from its $45.9 million opening. 10-day totals stand at $62.9 million domestic and $200 million worldwide.

In fourth is Universal’s “Us,” which crossed the $150 million domestic mark in its third weekend with $13.8 million for a $152 million total. “Captain Marvel” completes the top five, adding $12 million for a $376 million total.

Taking sixth was the third new entry of the weekend, STX/Astute Film’s “The Best of Enemies,” which opened to a lower than expected $4.5 million from 1,705 locations. The film about the unlikely relationship formed between a civil rights activist and a KKK leader received mixed reviews with a 52% RT score, but received an A from CinemaScore.