Early Box Office Projections Point To ‘Aquaman 2’ Being Another Major Flop for DC in 2023

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Things were looking bad for DC Studios in the post-COVID era, but it seems that it’s only getting worse. In fact, one of their most profitable superheroes – Jason Momoa’s Aquaman – is projected to be a box office bomb, just like the rest of the DC films in 2023.

According to Box Office Pro, ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ has projected earnings for the opening weekend sit between $32 and $42 million domestically, and between $105 and $168 million globally. That’s abysmal, considering the movie has a budget of about $205 million, meaning it has to hit at least around $400 million to break even.

The first ‘Aquaman’ movie in 2018 had low projections as well, but then it surprised everyone and became one of DCEU’s most profitable projects, amassing over a billion dollars worldwide. However, we can’t expect ‘Aquaman 2’ to be the same kind of surprise. In fact, things are pointing towards a big surprise – but in a negative context.

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Why ‘Aquaman 2’ may be a huge flop

First, there was the Amber Heard drama. Then, there were several reshoots, only bumping up the budget numbers further. And, then, the pre-sales of tickets for ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ are more than 50% lower than they were for 2022’s ‘Black Adam’ – and we know that was a huge flop.

You could hang your hat on Jason Momoa’s colossal fanbase to push the film into profit, but then again, Dwayne Johnson has a colossal fanbase, too, and he marketed ‘Black Adam’ as hard as he could, and yet, the film flopped.

aquaman 2 black adam

In fact, every single DCEU project in the post-COVID era failed miserably. First, ‘Black Adam’ was terrible at the box office in 2022. Then, DCEU opened 2023 with ‘Shazam! Fury of the Gods,’ hoping the film would at least be a fraction of the success that 2019’s ‘Shazam!’ was. And yet, it made only $134 million on a $125 million budget.

And then, if that wasn’t enough, one of the biggest bombs in the history of box office numbers came in ‘The Flash.’ On a budget of $220 million, ‘The Flash’ earned only around $270 million globally. It needed at least $450 million to break even, meaning the film cost Warner Bros. right around $200 million. Yes, it cost them that much money.

Not even ‘Blue Beetle’ – the most recent DCEU film – could change the recent trend for DC Studios. On a $104 million budget, ‘Blue Beetle’ became the lowest-grossing DCEU project to date with just $129 million in global revenue.

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What is going on with DC movies?

There are several potential reasons why DCEU films are flopping so hard over the past year or two. The first and obvious one was the SAG-AFTRA strikes that essentially changed the board not just for DC Studios but the entire industry.

Secondly, the MCU has been racking up bad numbers recently as well, which may indicate the superhero genre is simply not that appealing to mass audiences anymore after so many films coming out over the past decade and a half.

aquaman 2 poster

But, the reality is most of DCEU’s flops are coming due to such an early and abrupt announcement that it’s getting rebooted into the DCU. Simply put, fans know the stakes are super low with these few DCEU movies left on the slate – and ‘Aquaman 2’ is the last DCEU film before the franchise is officially rebooted into James Gunn’s DCU.

So, fans don’t bother going to the theater when they know it won’t be of any significance down the life.

In the end, the projections look grim, but we’ll just have to wait for December 22 to find out if they are correct, when ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ hits theaters worldwide. Until then, DC Studios can only hope that the tides are really turning, as the poster for ‘Aquaman 2’ suggests.

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