‘Blue Beetle’ Unseats ‘Barbie’ At Box Office, Still Under-Performs

It was “Blue Beetle” that scored No. 1 at the box office for its opening weekend, ending the four-week reign atop the hill for the global smash-hit phenomenon that is “Barbie.” However, at only $25 million, per figures from Box Office Mojo, “Blue Beetle” still performed far below expectations with a budget of at least well over $104 million.

‘Blue Beetle’ Tops ‘Barbie’ This Weekend, Still Under-Performs

Ahead of the new DC comic book superhero adaptation’s release, Deadline reported that the new film, starring Xolo Maridueña of “Cobra Kai” fame,” was tracking at a $30 million opening weekend. This opening also follows well below that tracking number, which usually isn’t a good sign.

“Blue Beetle” scored relatively well with critics at 76% on Rotten Tomatoes. It also currently has a high audience score of 92%. However, it did not translate very well to major audience enthusiasm, despite initial positive social media reactions.

James Gunn at the The Suicide Squad Premiere

“Blue Beetle” will need some exceptional holds to earn back its budget and become a respectable hit for Warner Bros. It’s not impossible, but it seems unlikely at this point. The new superhero film also stars Susan Sarandon, George Lopez, and it’s directed by Angel Manuel Soto. It’s the first DC Comics-based movie ever to feature a Latino superhero lead.

Meanwhile, “Barbie” may have been knocked off of its No. 1 slot, but it only dropped another 37.8% over the weekend, bringing in another $21 million to add to its overall $566 million total. By next week, “Barbie” should easily overtake “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” as the highest-grossing domestic release of 2023. It should also easily surpass $600 million domestically before the end of its run.

The film also currently stands at $1.280 billion worldwide. The Greta Gerwig-directed picture is also the highest-grossing domestic movie of all time with a female director. The film stars Margot Robbie in the titular role, with Ryan Gosling as Ken.

Barbie UK film premiere

Elsewhere, Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” continued to look strong at No. 3 with $10.7 million after a 43% drop over the weekend. The film has now made $285 million domestically and $718 million worldwide. Nolan’s highest-grossing film outside of the “Batman” franchise is the 2010 film, “Inception,” which made $292 million domestically and $837 million worldwide. “Oppenheimer” should easily surpass the domestic take of “Inception” before it leaves theaters, but worldwide seems likely as well. It has also now surpassed the worldwide box office of Nolan’s 2014 film, “Interstellar,” at $715 million worldwide.

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” also had a decent hold at No. 4 over the weekend, bringing another $8.5 million and a domestic total of $88 million worldwide. The new animated film, directed by Jeff Rowe and Kyler Spears, and co-written and produced by Seth Rogen, looks like it will break well over $100 million before it leaves theaters. While that may not seem like a ton, “Mutant Mayhem” is helped by only having a budget of about $70 million; much less than a lot of other comparable blockbusters this summer. Not to mention, “TMNT” will bring Paramount a lot of money through merchandise sales for the film as well.

The Future Of Blue Beetle & DC Films

Ahead of “Blue Beetle’s” release, DC Studios co-head James Gunn posted on Threads that the Blue Beetle character from the film, portrayed by Maridueña, and “a handful of other characters” would continue on in the new big-screen DC Universe from DC Studios, even though the first slate of films and shows have not been released yet. The first part of Gunn’s DC Universe plan is “Chapter 1: Gods and Monsters,” including a new “Superman” movie, “Superman: Legacy,” where Maridueña is going to reprise his role.

Unfortunately, the box office results of “Blue Beetle” set a precedent of continued financial failure for DC films following the disappointing releases of “Black Adam” last year” and “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” and “The Flash” earlier this year, which failed to ignite audiences.

James Gunn Calls Out Fans' 'Disrespectful Outcry' Over Henry Cavill's Exit As Superman

Warner Bros. Discovery and DC Studios still have one major film set to release later this year, “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,” which is still slated for a December 20 theatrical release. It is the last vestige of the old DC regime before Gunn and Safran took over the ship. However, even ahead of the two taking over the studio, the brand and films themselves have been taking quite the beating at theaters.

What has not helped these films is the perception that they don’t truly “matter.” There appears to be a perception among fans and audiences that most of these films, characters, and actors are more than likely going to be discarded in favor of the new plans from Gunn and Safran.

Now, while Gunn has said that Blue Beetle is still part of the new DC Universe and that Maridueña’s role is intact, it sounds like fan pandering and lip service to hype up the film. Gunn has already dealt with fan backlash with the recent recasting of Superman, with David Corenswet being cast in the lead role for “Superman: Legacy” with fans upset that Henry Cavill is no longer playing the part. There’s also been controversy over the future of the role of Wonder Woman and questions surrounding if Gal Gadot will return to play the character.

James Gunn Calls Out Fans' 'Disrespectful Outcry' Over Henry Cavill's Exit As Superman

It’s not tough to see why Gunn wants a clean slate and start fresh with his new DC Universe. However, the films that have been caught in the middle of the regime change have suffered as a result, and the brand is looking worse than ever before the new DC Universe has even gotten off the ground.

“Superman: Legacy” is currently targeting a July 2025 release. Provided the SAG-AFTRA strikes are resolved on a timely basis, it’s still possible the film can meet that target. Following, the release of “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” in December,” the next scheduled DC-based picture is “Joker: Folie à Deux,” a sequel to 2019’s “Joker,” which is still due to arrive in October 2024. The sequel should have no trouble making that mark since it’s currently in post-production and already wrapped filming before the strikes began.

DC’s “Blue Beetle” is currently playing now in theaters.

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