Why Black Adam’s Box Office Smashed The Terrible Reviews

Black Adam released to a very promising opening weekend box office total, outshining the mixed critical reception to the DCEU’s latest effort. Black Adam is a film that has been in the works since the late 2000s, leading to much disappointment when the film received less than positive reviews upon its release. Despite these critic reviews, though, Black Adam has proven to be a success among general audiences, with good audience reception and a successful opening weekend.

Black Adam brought in a box office total of around $67 million domestically over the three-day opening weekend, the highest of Dwayne Johnson’s career in a leading role. Outside of the US, the film earned a further $73 million for a worldwide weekend total of $140 million. In terms of the US, Black Adam is the first film in 2022 since the MCU’s Thor: Love and Thunder to earn more than $50 million on its opening weekend, proving that the film’s mixed-to-negative critical reaction has not been reflected in its income. Despite sitting at a 39% critic score on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, Black Adam has plenty of reasons why its box office opening weekend was a success.

One of these reasons is the leading man himself. Dwayne Johnson is without a doubt one of the most recognizable men in modern Hollywood, having one of the most illustrious (albeit not overly lauded) film careers of recent times. Since his breakout role as Luke Hobbs in Fast Five, Johnson has gone on to star in three other Fast and Furious films as well as his own spin-off, Hobbs & Shaw. Two of these three mainline movies have earned over $1 billion at the worldwide box office, with Hobbs & Shaw pulling in a very respectable $700+ million itself.

Outside of Fast and Furious, Johnson has co-starred in massive hits such as Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and its sequel, Jumanji: The Next Level. Other big Johnson films of recent years include Rampage, Skyscraper, and, more recently, Jungle Cruise. All of these movies, combined with Johnson’s illustrious wrestling career, have made Johnson one of the most famous men in the world, largely contributing to Black Adam’s success and his first leading role in the ever-popular superhero genre and negating the poor critical reception.

That being said, Black Adam’s status as a mainline superhero film in the DCEU and its many easter eggs to the wider universe is likely another major reason for the film’s box office success. While DCEU films since the pandemic have not necessarily performed well at the box office, prior to 2020, there was not a single DCEU film that earned less than $600 million worldwide, barring Shazam!. Black Adam, as the latest DCEU film to be released, combined with the Rock’s star power, are significant factors as to why the film was successful in its opening weekend. Also, Black Adam received positive audience scores. The film currently holds a 90% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, massively contrasting the critic score. Therefore, the film likely has good word-of-mouth, also allowing the box office to overcome the negative critical reception.

Given that Henry Cavill’s return as Superman in the film’s credit sequence was confirmed prior to release, Black Adam is in a unique position in that a usually secretive post-credit scene can aid the film’s box office. Johnson, in his various promotional campaigns for the film, revealed many times that one of the biggest things for him personally when making Black Adam was to show how he compares to the most powerful being in the universe: Superman. Since the release of Justice League, and subsequently, Zack Snyder’s Justice League, fans of the DCEU have been clamoring for Henry Cavill’s Superman to return. Johnson, sensing this from the fans, has obliged and provided audiences with a long-awaited return to the DCEU in Black Adam’s post-credit scene.

The premature announcement of Cavill’s Superman return and the questions it answers will have caused many fans of the franchise to go and see the film on opening weekend. It is no secret that the franchise’s fanbase has been divided of late, with one half calling for a return to the so-called Snyderverse and the other simply enjoying the projects as they come. Cavill’s return, though, and the smart albeit spoiler-filled announcement of such before Black Adam’s release, will have momentarily united both sides, which can both agree that Cavill is a fantastic Superman, thus improving the opening weekend returns.

Also, the general audience’s confusion at the DCEU’s lack of central characters will have been appeased by the recognizability of Cavill’s Superman. With this character being sidelined for too long and three different Batmen being planned by various DC projects, having Superman in Black Adam and announcing it to regular audiences before the film releases will have eased confusion on general audiences unfamiliar with DC’s long-term plan, again boosting Black Adam’s box office.

The prevailing question when looking at Black Adam’s box office numbers is just how much the film could make overall. The film can already be considered a success compared to the three previous DCEU theatrical releases. In its opening weekend, Black Adam has almost eclipsed both Wonder Woman 1984’s and The Suicide Squad’s total box office numbers. With the film costing around $190 million to produce, it will need to earn over double what it already has to make a profit. That being said, the positive word-of-mouth from general audiences, as well as the other factors mentioned above, mean that this feat is not too difficult for Black Adam to accomplish, meaning it may potentially overcome the DCEU’s recent box office trend.

After all, Black Adam is the first DCEU film to release after the worst of the pandemic is over, meaning it is already likely to outperform DC’s most recent efforts. Given how the next big franchise release is Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on November 11th, Black Adam has another weekend relatively unchallenged at the box office. Should the word-of-mouth cause the film to not have a drastic second-week drop, and Black Panther 2 not impact its box office too much in subsequent weekends, Black Adam can be expected to earn anywhere between $400-$600 million by the end of its run.

Black Adam’s box office could have plenty of ramifications on the DCEU, from aspects such as Cavill’s Superman to the DCEU’s new Justice Society and Black Adam himself. Firstly, off the back of Black Adam’s positive opening weekend, sequels to both Man of Steel and Black Adam, starring Henry Cavill and Dwayne Johnson, respectively, were confirmed to be in development. Should performance on Black Adam continue to go strong, the producers of the film stated that the film’s sequel will look to be fast-tracked at Warner Bros. Also, the JSA introduced in Black Adam could return in the future, with Warner Bros. previously stating that Black Adam’s success could lead to spin-offs featuring these characters. Johnson himself has stated that, despite the events of Black Adam, Pierce Brosnan’s Doctor Fate will play a role in future DCEU projects. The box office of Black Adam could be huge for the DCEU, not only being instrumental in bringing back a fan-favorite character and actor in Superman and Henry Cavill but in kick-starting a new phase of the DCEU that could center on the film’s many characters and beyond.