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Black Adam’s debut on HBO Max faltered compared to The Batman

by John Paul
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HBO Max has released the digital version of Black Adam, but it hasn’t done as well as Matt Reeves’ The Batman did when it first appeared on the service. Despite a solid opening weekend of $67 million in the United States and Canada, Black Adam’s performance at the box office was lackluster. The film was released in theatres in October. The restructuring at DC Studios when James Gunn was named co-CEO has only served to temper the enthusiasm for Dwayne Johnson’s debut in the DC Universe, which was met with mixed reviews to begin with. With this result, Black Adam was written out of the first chapter of the new DCU plot, and Henry Cavill was let go from his role as Superman.

Samba TV reported that, in the first three days of its availability on HBO Max, Black Adam was seen by 1.2 million households. It is a major letdown compared to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s earlier streaming offerings, notably Thor: Love and Thunder. HBO Max fared better than expected, with a 6% over-index in Gen Z viewership and an almost 25% increase in Black household viewership compared to the national average. It’s encouraging news for the streaming service because it demonstrates that some good can come out of the tragedy of Black Adam. Read on for the full remark made by Samba TV’s Vice President of Operations, Dallas Lawrence:

“While Black Adam’s streaming debut on HBO Max fell short compared to superhero films like Batman, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, and Thor: Love and Thunder, it was a hit with younger and diverse audiences. Black households were more likely to watch the adventure film than the national average by nearly 25 percent, and Gen Z and Millennial audiences also over-indexed on viewership. Appealing to these younger, more diverse audiences is critical as HBO Max continues to find new growth opportunities and widen its subscriber base.”

Should We Consider Black Adam a Victory?

Many have wondered, and many aspects must be considered to decide whether Black Adam can be deemed a box office success. Its current international box office gross of just under $400 million is just enough to earn a profit with a stated budget of roughly $195 million. Another DC film, The Batman, had a similar budget as Black Adam but made four times as much in its opening weekend and nearly twice as much worldwide. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has already made about $800 million at the box office.

Black Adam is the best-performing DCU release since 2018’s Aquaman, far outperforming the miserable returns of Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman 1984, and The Suicide Squad. However, it still fares poorly compared to competitors in the MCU and DC entities separate from the DCU, such as The Batman and Joker. With Black Adam’s earnings still far lower than Aquaman’s $1.1 billion, this may be more of a cause for alarm than a cause for celebration of the current health of the DCU. This hints at a deeper issue with the DCU’s architecture, which has come to light in recent months.

Even though Johnson’s message guaranteed fans he would eventually make his way to the DCU. The announcement revealed Johnson would not reprise the character any time soon, as had been feared in the wake of the cancellation of planned projects like Wonder Woman 3. Given this information, and considering that Cavill’s appearance is now moot because of his departure from the DCU, it’s hard not to call the picture a major letdown. Gunn’s decision to put Black Adam on the back burner may have doomed whatever aspirations it had of a good streaming performance in the wake of the success of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Avatar: The Way of Water.



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