“Black Adam,” a comic book adventure starring Dwayne Johnson, will loom large over the weekend box office.
The film, from Warner Bros. and DC Comics, is expected to generate $60 million or more from 4,350 North American theaters between Friday and Sunday. That’ll easily be enough to dethrone “Halloween Ends,” which took the No. 1 spot last weekend with $41 million.
“Black Adam” is squaring off against “Ticket to Paradise,” a romantic comedy featuring Julia Roberts and George Clooney, which is aiming to generate $15 million from 3,500 cinemas in its box office debut.
“Black Adam,” which cost a mighty $195 million to produce, isn’t going to break any records in the comic book realm. And it’ll certainly need a long life on the big screen to justify that price tag. But the movie does look to inject a little sizzle in the otherwise sluggish October at the box office. There hasn’t been a film to open above $50 million since “Thor: Love and Thunder” in July, though last weekend’s “Halloween Ends” came closest with $41 million.
In terms of DC entries, “Black Adam” is tracking for a better start than 2021’s “The Suicide Squad,” which collected a dismal $26 million while debuting simultaneously on HBO Max. But the anti-hero adventure is expected to earn far less than the studio’s most recent live-action comic book adaptation, “The Batman,” which impressed with $134 million in March. (“DC League of Super-Pets,” an animated adventure about the four-legged friends of Justice League members, took in $23 million in its opening weekend in July.) However, Black Adam is nowhere near as well-known to the general public as the Caped Crusader, portrayed by Robert Pattinson in “The Batman.” That film eventually tapped out with a solid $770 million worldwide.
“Black Adam” has generated mixed reviews. But it’s a superhero movie, after all, so it’s less likely that critical sentiment will affect ticket sales. In “Black Adam,” Johnson plays an antihero who is unleashed into modern times after nearly 5,000 years of imprisonment. His baddie tendencies attract the attention of the Justice Society of America, whose members consist of Hawkman (Aldis Hodge) and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo), who try to teach him to be a hero.
“Ticket to Paradise,” from Universal Pictures, is hoping to serve as counter-programming against “Black Adam.” For “Ticket to Paradise,” a debut in the mid-teens would be respectable given the challenges facing romantic comedies at the box office. Those initial ticket sales would fall in between “The Lost City” ($30 million debut) and “Bros” ($4.8 million debut), the most recent rom-coms to play in theaters.
Already, the combined wattage of Roberts and Clooney is charming audiences at the international box office, where “Ticket to Paradise” has generated an impressive $72.6 million to date. The movie cost $60 million to produce, which is fairly expensive for modern romantic comedies.
Ol Parker, best known for “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” directed “Ticket to Paradise.” Roberts and Clooney play hostile exes, who fly to Bali to stop their lovestruck daughter (played by Kaitlyn Dever) from marrying a near stranger.
In Variety’s review, film critic Richard Kuipers praised “Ticket to Paradise” as an “old-fashioned rom-com.”
“While far from a classic of its kind,” he wrote, “this is likely to be just the ‘Ticket’ for general viewers relishing the chance to watch Roberts and Clooney trade poisonous barbs, before being struck by Cupid’s arrow all over again.”