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The ‘Black Adam’ debacle shows the limits of even superhero movies and Dwayne Johnson’s star power

black adamDwayne Johnson in “Black Adam,” which will seemingly not get a sequel.

Warner Bros.

  • Dwayne Johnson said that “Black Adam” isn’t part of the new DC film universe’s “first chapter.”
  • The movie didn’t click with audiences, showing the limits of superhero movies and the Rock’s star power.
  • It disappointed at the box office, and received harsh critic reviews.

A sequel to the latest DC movie “Black Adam” seems unlikely — a sign that even big-budget superhero movies and Dwayne Johnson’s star power have limits in the current theatrical marketplace.

In a rare admission of defeat, Johnson released a statement on his social media on Tuesday saying that the character would not be included in the new DC Studios’ “first chapter of storytelling.”

While Johnson said that he’s agreed to explore how Black Adam can fit into the future of the new DC film universe, it seems like this puts an end to any immediate plans for his return. The rest of Johnson’s statement read like an obituary, saying that he’ll “always look back on the fan reaction to Black Adam with tremendous gratitude.”

Warner Bros. Discovery recently hired filmmaker James Gunn and producer Peter Safran to head DC Studios and to chart a new plan for the DC universe across film and TV. Gunn and Safran are obviously looking to start fresh, even scrapping Henry Cavill’s Superman and a third “Wonder Woman” movie.

The box-office performance of “Black Adam” likely didn’t help its chance of survival.

On paper, “Black Adam” combined two ingredients that are typically box office gold: comic-book movies and Johnson. The former consistently draw in crowds when compared to films of other genres, and the latter is one of the biggest movie stars in the world.

But the film earned only $391 million worldwide, including $167 million in the US, a disappointing figure for a movie that cost $200 million to make before marketing and other expenses.

Johnson’s damage-control instincts kicked into high gear with “Black Adam,” a passion project he spent over a decade trying to make.

After Variety reported that the movie would lose money, Johnson pushed back in a tweet saying that it “will profit” and shared a Deadline story that made his case.

Whether or not it made money, it’s clear that the movie ultimately didn’t click with consumers.

When previous Johnson star vehicles like “Skyscraper” and “Rampage” lacked in US ticket sales, they made up for it on the international stage, particularly in China. 

“Black Adam,” though, struggled to maintain momentum, and the movie didn’t receive a China release. (Based on other Hollywood tentpoles this year that have made it to China, it was never a guarantee that it would be a hit there, anyway.)

In a November survey, the pop-culture wiki Fandom found that a majority of DC fans, 57%, are fans of specific characters rather than of the entire universe and are more likely to rally around a movie if it stars their favorite character. Black Adam isn’t a well-known character, so it was always going to face an uphill battle.

It also received harsh reviews, with a 39% on Rotten Tomatoes, which may have been difficult to recover from — especially at a time when audiences seem to be more selective about the movies they spend their money on in theaters. 

While Black Adam isn’t part of Gunn and Safran’s DC vision right now, they have announced some of their plans. Notably, Gunn is writing a Superman movie focused on a younger version of the character.

Overall, “Black Adam” is the latest in a string of hit-or-miss movies for DC, a franchise that has lacked the consistent success of Marvel. But it’s also one of the biggest testaments yet that a popular actor playing a superhero doesn’t automatically make a movie a hit.

Read the original article on Business Insider