Over the past seven weeks, I’ve been watching the box office receipts of Black Adam, the DC superhero movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. To these eyes, it looked like a flop. A domestic gross of $165 million, and a worldwide gross of just $385 million — when you’re talking about a superhero movie and Dwyane Johnson, that’s not a lot.
Still, it seems risky to bet against Dwayne Johnson, one of the few remaining movie stars. In the back of my mind, I kept waiting for grosses from a country like China to roll in and save the day.
Black Adam is a flop:
“Black Adam,” a comic book adventure starring Dwayne Johnson as a villain who once promised to change the “hierarchy of power” in the Warner Bros. DC universe, didn’t come cheap, costing $195 million to produce. And a big-budget movie led by Johnson — one of the biggest movie stars in the world, who plays against type here as a murderous anti-hero — requires a worldwide marketing spend of $100 million, according to knowledgable individuals. Insiders at Warner Bros. push back, saying that COVID-related box office limitations led the studio to scale back the global advertising campaign to $80 million.
As a result, the film needed to earn around $600 million worldwide to break even and to surpass that lofty benchmark to turn a profit, according to sources familiar with the financials. Yet box office experts believe “Black Adam” will stall out with less than $400 million globally, which is problematic since movie theater owners get to keep around half of those sales. Now, the movie stands to lose $50 million to $100 million in its theatrical run, according to the estimates of insiders as well as rival executives with knowledge of similar productions. Sources at Warner Bros. dispute those numbers, saying the movie will break even at $400 million. When the film was commissioned, the break even was believed to be $450 million, but that figure has dropped given the particularities of the new home entertainment landscape, one in which “Black Adam” has over-performed projections.
Even if you are gullible enough to believe the studio, “break even” is a flop. No one risks $300 million and two years of their life to “break even.” The whole point of Black Adam was for Warner Bros. to launch its own Black Panther-style franchise. Well, with Wakanda Forever underperforming in a big way, maybe the studio has, just not in the way they had hoped. What Warner wanted was a golden goose that would pop out a $1 billion worldwide egg every four or five years. Instead, DC is stuck with yet another dud.
The pattern of failure here is not just woketardery. If you look at the stunning failure of Lady Ghostbusters, Bros., In the Heights, and Woke Side Story, and the underperformance of Wakanda Forever, what you have here is one box office failure after another (I could name a dozen more) that is selling itself as a story about identity rather than character.
Newsflash: Nobody cares. Identity equals shallow tribalism, narcissistic intolerance, lectures, scolds, prigs, and ZZZZZZzzzzzzz.
The world didn’t spend $5 billion to see Johnny Depp prance around as a pirate in one excellent, one okay, and three pretty bad movies because he’s white. The attraction was Captain Jack Sparrow, one of the most enjoyable characters created in the last 20 years.
Why do we still watch the original Star Trek? The multiculturalism? Heavens, no. We love the characters, most especially Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.
Why is the Back to the Future trilogy still a total joy to watch? Why is it going to Broadway after thirty years? Because Marty McFly, Doc Brown, and Biff Tannen are white? No, because they are a pleasure to spend time with.
Why are we still watching those Star Wars movies from 40 years ago? The special effects? No, we love Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian, and Darth Vader. They are amazing characters. Flawed. Relatable. Real — something the sequels whiffed on entirely with characters based on GENDER and ECONOMIC STATUS.
We love characters.
Don’t be black or Hispanic or gay or poor or white or Eskimo or whatever… Be a human being, a person, a fully-formed, fascinating, flawed, and relatable human being. What you do with your sex organs is as interesting as your skin color: not at all interesting. Defining yourself in that way only proves you’re boring, tedious, and self-involved.
No one cares.
Get over yourself.