The Big Picture
- Warner Bros.’ DCEU is struggling due to the franchise being perceived as “dead on arrival” after the reboot announcement by new CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran.
- Blue Beetle, initially designed for streaming and released in theaters, suffered from a lack of audience interest and limited promotional activities due to ongoing strikes.
- Despite positive reviews and solid audience scores, Blue Beetle‘s global box office debut of $43 million falls short of previous DCEU movies.
Warner Bros.’ DC Extended Universe is truly struggling, and a large reason for that is the studio’s public declaration that the franchise is on its last legs. W.B. is rebooting the DCEU as the DC Universe under the supervision of new CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran, which means that the movies that were greenlit by the previous management — movies such as this week’s Blue Beetle — are largely being perceived as dead on arrival.
Originally designed as a direct-to-streaming title — the movie’s budget was also restricted to around half of what other DCEU titles tend to cost — Blue Beetle was released in theaters at a time when the audience has all but given up on the franchise. Additionally, the ongoing SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes meant that none of the cast members could participate in promotional activities, further impacting audience awareness. All of this has contributed to the film earning only $25.4 million in its opening weekend at the domestic box office, and another $18 million from 64 international territories, for a global debut of just $43 million.
Blue Beetle actually earned some decent reviews; it was praised for its cast and humor, as well as its warm foregrounding of the Latino community. The movie earned a solid B+ CinemaScore from opening day audiences and currently sits at a healthy 76% score on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes — an improvement over the more recent DC movies. Collider’s Ross Bonaime wrote in his review that the movie “overcomes its many clichés with a more limited scale and a focus on family.”
At This Rate, Will Anybody Show Up for Aquaman 2?
But none of this was enough to secure better box office numbers. In fact, Blue Beetle’s $25.4 million debut falls short of the low openings delivered by two of the franchise’s biggest bombs — Birds of Prey and Shazam! Fury of the Gods — as well as Gunn’s 2021 The Suicide Squad, which actually debuted simultaneously on the Max (then HBO Max) streaming service mid-pandemic. W.B. now has four back-to-back superhero flops on its resume; before Blue Beetle, the studio released Black Adam, Shazam 2, and The Flash. The sole silver lining for the studio is the fact that Blue Beetle cost only $104 million to produce; by comparison, Black Adam was reported to have cost nearly $300 million.
W.B. will reboot the franchise in 2025 with Gunn’s Superman: Legacy, but before that, the studio will release the final relic of the old DCEU — James Wan’s Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, which is currently slated for a December release. Directed by Ángel Manuel Soto, Blue Beetle stars Xolo Maridueña in the lead role, alongside a supporting cast that includes Adriana Barraza, Damían Alcázar, Raoul Max Trujillo, Susan Sarandon, and others. You can watch our interview with Soto here, and stay tuned to Collider for more updates.
Blue Beetle is currently playing in theaters.
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