Black Adam Review

In 1993, NBA superstar Charles Barkley famously told the world in a commercial that he was not a role model. Nearly three decades later, cinematic superstar Dwayne Johnson tells us repeatedly in Black Adam that he is not a hero. This latest offering from the DC Extended Universe kind of has a mid 90s vibe when it comes to comic book adaptations. That was a weak time for the genre prior to its explosion in the 21st century. As far as quality, this has more in common with 1996’s Kazaam, which starred Barkley’s Inside the NBA colleague Shaquille O’Neal. Adam may have a connection to 2019’s Shazam!, but shares little of its entertainment value.

A prologue in 2600 B.C. introduces us to the fictional Middle Eastern nation of Kahndaq. A young boy enslaved by an evil ruler chooses to take a stand against the oppression (even as his elders discourage it). He is rewarded by the Council of Wizards – hence that Shazam! tie-in as he’s given the immense powers of that character.

Flash forward 5000 years and Kahndaq is under a different kind of oppression from a crime syndicated known as Intergang. Archeologist Adrianna (Sarah Shahi) is in search of the Crown of Sabbac, which turns its wearer into a demonic being. Intergang is looking for it as well. When they clash, she manages to awaken Teth-Adam. He’s believed to be that heroic rebel from 50 centuries ago. Dwayne Johnson is the awoken being. Adam insists that’s he not a hero and keeps saying it.

The presence of this superhuman relic attracts the attention of Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), who you may remember as The Suicide Squad‘s recruiter. Adam is looked at as a potential threat. The Squad doesn’t intervene. Neither does Superman or Batman or The Flash (though they’re glimpsed on the bedroom wall of Adrianna’s teenage son). Instead the Justice Society books passage to Kahndaq to investigate just how dangerous Adam is. Pierce Brosnan is the clairvoyant Doctor Fate, Aldis Hodge is Hawkman, Noah Centineo plays Atom Smasher (think Ant-Man but he can only grow big), and Quintessa Swindell is the twirling Cyclone. If this sounds like the B list of the DC pages, that’s certainly how it feels. That superficiality extends to the villain (Marwan Kenzari), the Intergang leader who dons the devilish crown. He might be more forgettable than Justice League‘s baddie Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) and that’s saying a lot.

Jaume Collet-Serra directed Johnson in the pretty enjoyable Jungle Cruise. That collaboration was a better ride than this. Johnson is saddled with a hero (wait… NOT a hero!!!) who’s often a sullen bore. Very little of the actor’s dynamic personality comes through. It breaks through on occasion but not nearly enough. We’re cooking at a low boil. Everything in Black Adam has been done with more pizzazz in other DCEU and especially MCU pictures. Dwayne Johnson (and Tina Turner) are right in this case. We don’t need another hero.

*1/2 (out of four)

November 11-13 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Note (11/09): I am revising my Black Panther: Wakanda Forever estimate down from $205.2M to $195.2M.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever looks to achieve the largest opening of 2022 when it is unveiled Friday. The sequel to 2018’s $700 million domestic grosser is understandably the only new release this weekend. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

My estimate puts Wakanda at the higher end of its expected range and has it surpassing its predecessor for the 8th largest debut of all time. It needs to get beyond $191 million to topple the year’s best opening currently held by Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. I believe it can with room to spare.

After a three-week reign atop the charts and a better than anticipated 3rd frame hold (more on that below), Black Adam will drop to second. One Piece Film: Red should have the heftiest percentage fall of all holdovers (typical for its genre). That should allow Ticket to Paradise to remain in third. We could even see Smile or Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile in the four or five spot ahead of Red (it could be awfully close for those 4-6 positions).

Here’s how I see it all playing out:

1 . Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Predicted Gross: $195.2 million

2. Black Adam

Predicted Gross: $8.7 million

3. Ticket to Paradise

Predicted Gross: $5.8 million

4. Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

Predicted Gross: $2.5 million

5. Smile

Predicted Gross: $2.4 million

6. One Piece Film: Red

Predicted Gross: $2.2 million

Box Office Predictions (November 4-6)

Dwayne Johnson rocked another #1 weekend as Black Adam took in $18.2 million (besting my $14.4 million take). That’s a solid dip of 33% as its stateside tally stands at $137 million. The reported $200 million budget is preventing this from being considered a runaway success, but the total is decent in this marketplace.

One Piece Film: Red, the animated fantasy from Japan, premiered in line with its range at $9.3 million for runner-up status. I went slightly higher at $10.2 million. As mentioned above, a sophomore plummet of over 70% is likely.

Ticket to Paradise continued to prevent the death of the rom com in third with $8.5 million, holding up sturdier than my $6.8 million forecast. The three-week gross is $46 million.

Smile was fourth with $3.9 million (I said $3.4 million) as the sleeper horror hit is up to $99 million (with over $200 million already domestically). The Paramount release should join the century club tonight.

Prey for the Devil was right behind in firth as that scary movie earned $3.8 million in weekend #2. I said a little less with $3.1 million. It’s made $13 million.

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile managed to jump up 23% for sixth place with $3.3 million. The kiddie pic is at $36 million.

Finally, Oscar hopeful The Banshees of Inisherin was seventh with $2 million. The Irish set black comedy with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson came in a tad below my $2.2 million projection.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

November 4-6 Box Office Predictions

Black Adam hopes for a three-peat before Black Panther: Wakanda Forever invades theaters next weekend. In order to do so, it’ll need to fend off Japan’s animated fantasy One Piece Film: Red. We also have the expansion of Oscar hopeful The Banshees of Inisherin and you can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the newbies here:

One Piece is a bit of a mystery heading into the early November frame. I’ve settled on it getting to double digits, but it could certainly climb higher or fall under my projection. Keep an eye on whether my estimate changes throughout the weekend. A gross just north of $10 million should mean runner-up status with Black Adam in the low to possibly mid teens.

Oscar hopefuls like Banshees have faced a tough road and I suspect this will too. It could find itself in a fight with Prey for the Devil for the five spot as I anticipate that horror pic will suffer a large sophomore decline. I’m giving Prey the edge.

Holdovers Ticket to Paradise and Smile should place third and fourth. Finally, there’s also a wider rollout for Armageddon Time. The coming of age drama from director James Gray stars Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong, and Anthony Hopkins. I have not done an individual post forecasting its expansion because I don’t believe it will clear $1 million.

This is how I see the top 6 playing out:

1 . Black Adam

Predicted Gross: $14.4 million

2. One Piece Film: Red

Predicted Gross: $10.2 million

3. Ticket to Paradise

Predicted Gross: $6.8 million

4. Smile

Predicted Gross: $3.4 million

5. Prey for the Devil

Predicted Gross: $3.1 million

6. The Banshees of Inisherin

Predicted Gross: $2.2 million

Box Office Results (October 28-30)

As expected, Dwayne Johnson easily ruled the charts as Black Adam took in $27.4 million in weekend #2. That is on pace with my $28.1 million take and the ten-day total is $110 million.

Ticket to Paradise held the two spot with a 40% decline in its sophomore outing at $9.8 million, in line with my $10.4 million prediction. The two-week tally is $33 million.

Prey for the Devil scared up a middling $7.1 million in third. That’s nothing special for the exorcism tale which drew only a C+ Cinemascore grade. It did, however, top my $5.9 million forecast.

Smile was fourth with $5.4 million and I was more generous with $6.5 million. The low budget fright fest has amassed $92 million.

Halloween Ends rounded out the top five with $4 million (I said $4.1 million) for $60 million over three weeks.

Awards bait pics Till and Tár both underwhelmed in their wide premieres. The former was sixth with $2.7 million (not matching my $3.8 million projection). The latter was 10th with $1 million and I was more optimistic at $1.8 million. Respective totals are $3.5 million and $2.5 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

October 28-30 Box Office Predictions

Studios usually don’t roll out movies that they think will scare up huge box office dollars on Halloween weekend and that holds true for 2022. We have the supernatural horror tale Prey for the Devil and the expansions of Till and Tár (both with likely Best Actress Oscar contenders in Danielle Deadwyler and Cate Blanchett, respectively). You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on that trio here:

Devil may round up the most business of the newcomers, but my mid single digits forecast would put it in fourth place behind a trio of holdovers. My take on Till could put it in fifth or sixth position based on how Halloween Ends holds after its massive sophomore frame plummet (more on that below). As for Tár, it’s slated for approximately 1000 venues and my $1.8 million projection leaves it outside of the top five or six.

The top 3 should remain the same with Black Adam having no trouble topping the charts for a second weekend. How far it falls is a better question. With a so-so B+ Cinemascore grade, I foresee a slightly higher dip than the 54% that Shazam! experienced in 2019. If it approaches closer to 60%, a gross in the upper 20s would be the result.

Ticket to Paradise with George Clooney and Julia Roberts slightly surpassed expectations and it should hold well with a 35-40% decrease. The runaway hit Smile should be the fright fest of choice in third place as it continues its meager declines.

And with that, my top 6 take for the spooky close out session of October:

1. Black Adam

Predicted Gross: $28.1 million

2. Ticket to Paradise

Predicted Gross: $10.4 million

3. Smile

Predicted Gross: $6.5 million

4. Prey for the Devil

Predicted Gross: $5.9 million

5. Halloween Ends

Predicted Gross: $4.1 million

6. Till

Predicted Gross: $3.8 million

Box Office Results (October 21-23)

The DCEU’s Black Adam, with Dwayne Johnson seemingly everywhere promoting it, opened in line with most prognostications at $67 million. That’s a bit above my $64.7 million take and in line with the studio’s Aquaman from 2018. It’s safe to say we haven’t seen the last of the character. As mentioned, this should easily repeat in 1st position this weekend (and the weekend after until Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits).

Rom com Ticket to Paradise capitalized on its star power for $16.5 million, bettering my prediction of $13.7 million. That’s a needed boost for a genre that’s been struggling in recent years and an older crowd turned out to make the multiplex trek.

Smile continued to make Paramount happy with $8.4 million, a shade below my $9.5 million estimate. At $84 million after four weeks, the low budget pic is barreling toward $100 million domestically.

Halloween Ends went from 1st to 4th with a momentous 80% reduction. At $8 million, the final showdown between Laurie Strode and Michael Myers didn’t match my $10.4 million projection. The two-week total is $54 million as it will fall quite a bit short of the $92 million that predecessor Halloween Kills made.

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile rounded out the top five with $4.2 million (I said $5.2 million) and $28 million overall.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Oscar Predictions: Black Adam

Of the ten 10 previous films making up the DC Extended Universe, there’s only one Oscar nomination to be found. That’s the third film in the franchise – 2016’s Suicide Squad – and it’s a win in the Makeup and Hairstyling race.

Black Adam with Dwayne Johnson represents a new chapter in the DCEU as Warner Bros hopes the character becomes a fixture in future installments. Out Friday, the review embargo has lifted and critical reaction is certainly in the mixed variety. The Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 54%.

From Man of Steel up through last summer’s new version of The Suicide Squad, even the competitions where comic book adaptations can contend have escaped awards attention. That includes Best Sound and Visual Effects (where numerous MCU titles have been nominated though never won). From what I’ve seen reaction wise, there’s no reason to think Black Adam would be contending for a second DCEU nod. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

October 21-23 Box Office Predictions

Dwayne Johnson lends his star power to the DC Extended Universe in Black Adam and there’s the megawatt combo of George Clooney and Julia Roberts in the rom com Ticket to Paradise. They are the weekend’s new offerings and you can peruse my detailed prediction posts on them here:

Black Adam Box Office Prediction

Ticket to Paradise Box Office Prediction

While Adam is unlikely to approach the $100 million plus starts of other DCEU efforts, it should easily rock the charts with a gross in the mid 60s.

The two spot could be more of a battle. However, I’m guessing the Clooney/Roberts team-up (while it would’ve been more potent 20 years ago) should nab the runner-up position.

With a C+ Cinemascore grade, Halloween Kills couldn’t keep up with its two predecessors Halloween (2018) and Halloween Kills (2021). Last October, Kills plummeted 70% in its sophomore outing. I expect Ends may even get slashed a tad more. There’s even a possibility its second weekend could place behind the fourth frame of Smile, but I doubt it.

Finally, Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile should round out the top five and here’s how I see it looking:

1. Black Adam

Predicted Gross: $64.7 million

2. Ticket to Paradise

Predicted Gross: $13.9 million

3. Halloween Ends

Predicted Gross: $10.4 million

4. Smile

Predicted Gross: $9.5 million

5. Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

Predicted Gross: $5.2 million

Box Office Results (October 14-16)

Coming in nearly $10 million below the last tussle of Laurie Strode and Michael Myers was Halloween Ends with $40 million (under my take of $47.6 million). The budget is low so profitability isn’t an issue. Yet it will take the current (and final?) trilogy out on a low note.

Smile continued its impressive holds in second place with $12.5 million, just ahead of my $11.8 million estimate. The horror hit (which is likely starting its own franchise) has amassed $71 million in three weeks.

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile was third with $7.3 million (on target with my $7.2 million call). The family friendly musical stands at a middling $22 million after 10 days of release.

The Woman King was fourth with $3.7 million (I said $4.1 million) for $59 million overall.

Lastly, Amsterdam (as expected) fell a precipitous 57% in its sophomore weekend to $2.7 million. I was a bit more generous at $3 million. The big budget flop has taken in only $11 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Black Adam Box Office Prediction

Dwayne Johnson looks to bring his often rock solid box office bonafides to the DC Extended Universe with Black Adam on October 21st. The 11th feature in the franchise that began with Man of Steel nearly a decade ago is a spinoff of 2019’s Shazam! Like that pic, it is centered on a less widely known hero in the DC arsenal. Jaume Collet-Serra (who worked with Johnson recently in Jungle Cruise) directs. The supporting cast includes Aldis Hodge, Noah Centineo, Sarah Shahi, Marwan Kenzari, Quintessa Swindell, Viola Davis, and Pierce Brosnan.

It’s somewhat surprising that we’ve waited this long to see the live-action comic book genre and this leading man hook up. While this should perform well, Adam is unlikely to approach the opening grosses of the DCEU’s earlier titles like Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman, and Justice League. They all made over $100 million (or close to it) out of the gate. Yet this should top the $53 million earned by Shazam! The best comp I see is Aquaman, which made $67 million during its traditional Friday to Sunday rollout. I’ll say it makes a little less.

Black Adam opening weekend prediction: $64.7 million

For my Ticket to Paradise prediction, click here:

Ticket to Paradise Box Office Prediction

August 5-7 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Update (08/03): My projection for Easter Sunday has taken a downward turn. Instead of $8.2M, I’m now only projecting $5.6M and that puts it outside of the top five – with Minions: The Rise of Gru now getting the 5 spot.

Brad Pitt looks to conduct Bullet Train to a sizeable debut while the Jo Koy comedy Easter Sunday looks be a sleeper hit. They are the newbies as August dawns at the box office. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on them here:

Bullet Train Box Office Prediction

Easter Sunday Box Office Prediction

There’s no question that Train (from John Wick maker David Leitch) will hit #1. It’s all about by how much. Some estimates have this in the $40 million range, but I’m skeptical. In the last couple of weekends, both Nope and DC League of Super-Pets have come in under expectations (more on those developments below).

While Pitt certainly has star power, I feel like buzz needs to pick up and fast for this to reach $40 million. Perhaps my projections will rise before Thursday evening. For now, I have Bullet a shade under $30 million.

As for current champ Super-Pets, a dip in the mid to high 30s seems likely and that should place it firmly as the runner-up.

The truly interesting competition could be for the #3 slot. Easter Sunday could surprise and vastly overperform and end up #2. Or it could be outside of the top five with below $8 million. I’m putting at $8.2 million in its basket and here’s where it could be awfully close. If Nope has another plummet close to 60% and Thor: Love and Thunder sees a mid to high 30s drop, the grosses for the trio could be separated by basically nothing.

That’s what I’m thinking will occur and here’s how I think the top 5 ends up looking:

1. Bullet Train

Predicted Gross: $29.7 million

2. DC League of Super-Pets

Predicted Gross: $13.6 million

3. Thor: Love and Thunder

Predicted Gross: $8.3 million

4. Nope 

Predicted Gross: $8.1 million

5. Minions: The Rise of Gru

Predicted Gross: $6.9 million

Box Office Results (July 29-31) 

The Warner Animation Group won’t be barking loudly about the earnings of DC League of Super-Pets as it came in the very low end of its range. With a muted $23 million, the animated superhero canine teaming of Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson is a disappointment (coming in well under my $33.6 million prediction). The only silver lining could be lack of competition for the month. That could mean meager declines until the bulk of kiddos go back to school.

Nope, as anticipated with its lackluster B Cinemascore grade, cratered in its sophomore frame with $18.5 million (a smidge ahead of my $17.5 million projection). Jordan Peele’s sci-fi horror tale is up to $80 million, though it will come in well under his predecessors Get Out and Us. 

Thor: Love and Thunder was third with $13.1 million, besting my take of $11.4 million. The MCU four-quel has hammered home $301 million.

Minions: The Rise of Gru took fourth at $10.9 million (I said $10.3 million) to brings it haul to $320 million.

Top Gun: Maverick rounded out the top five at $8.4 million, right on target with my $8.3 million guesstimate. The airborne phenomenon achieved another milestone at $650 million. It will soon become the 7th largest domestic earner in history when it vaults over Titanic ($659 million) and Jurassic World ($652 million).

Finally, When the Crawdads Sing held up solidly in weekend #3 with $7.5 million (I went with $6.9 million). The mystery based on a bestseller is past the half century mark with $53 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Oscar Predictions: DC League of Super-Pets

The Warner Animation Group kicked off nearly a decade ago with 2014’s The Lego Movie. This Friday, their 10th effort under the production banner is DC League of Super-Pets. It comes from director Jared Stern (who wrote The Lego Batman Movie and The Lego Ninjago Movie) and features the voices of Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson as Batman and Superman’s respective canine pals.

While some of their titles have performed pleasingly at the box office, none of the pics have caught the attention of awards voters. Super-Pets currently sits at a decent 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. Yet if Lego and its spin-offs and sequels didn’t block space on the Best Animated Feature final five, the competition from Disney and others will likely freeze this out too. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

July 29-31 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Note (07/27): I am revising my Super-Pets estimate down considerably- from $42.6M to $33.6M

DC League of Super-Pets should have no trouble hitting the top spot as July closes out at the box office. It’s the only wide new offering coming to multiplexes and you can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

DC League of Super-Pets Box Office Prediction

My low to mid 40s projection puts the animated comedic adventure reuniting Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson in the same range with where Jordan Peele’s Nope premiered this past weekend.

There’s more on that Nope debut below, but it could be headed for a sophomore fall in the mid to upper 50s. Considering its weak B Cinemascore grade, it’s not out of the question that it could plummet even farther. We could see a close race for the #3 position between Thor: Love and Thunder and Minions: The Rise of Gru, depending on how far each title drops. The former is likely to see a larger decline. However, Super-Pets being out could cause Gru to have a heftier dip than its meager mid 30s decline last weekend. Top Gun: Maverick could hold the #5 slot with Where the Crawdads Sing falling to sixth place.

Here’s how I see that top 6 playing out:

1. DC League of Super-Pets

Predicted Gross: $33.6 million

2. Nope

Predicted Gross: $17.5 million

3. Thor: Love and Thunder

Predicted Gross: $11.4 million

4. Minions: The Rise of Gru

Predicted Gross: $10.3 million

5. Top Gun: Maverick

Predicted Gross: $8.3 million

6. Where the Crawdads Sing 

Predicted Gross: $6.9 million

Box Office Results (July 22-24) 

As mentioned previously, Nope started out on the lower end of expectations with $44.3 million. That’s under my call of $53.2 million and there were estimates that it would surpass my projection. While the sci-fi horror pic may end up turning a profit, Peele’s third outing opened nearly $30 million below his predecessor Us (which benefited by being the auteur’s follow-up to the unexpected smash Get Out). Word-of-mouth is not strong and that’s why you see me projecting a nearly 60% sophomore drop above.

Thor: Love and Thunder was runner-up after two weeks in first. Its $22.5 million gross is right on target with my take of $22.4 million as the MCU fourquel has hammered home $276 million.

Minions: The Rise of Gru took third with $18 million (I was close with $17 million) for a four-week tally of $298 million.

Where the Crawdads Sing had a solid hold in weekend #2 with $10.3 million, just ahead of my $9.5 million prediction. The ten-day earnings are $38 million.

Top Gun: Maverick was in the five spot with $10.2 million (I said $9.8 million). The overall $635 million haul is now 9th all-time as it just flew ahead of 2012’s The Avengers.

And that does it for now! Until next time…