Dwayne Johnson’s DC Box Office Failure Thrives on Netflix Worldwide

Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam wearing his black and gold suit looking at someone off-screen in Black Adam

In the midst of the DCEU’s winding narrative, “Black Adam” emerged as a highly anticipated addition, but its reception was far from stellar, resulting in a lackluster performance at the box office. Despite this setback, the film has experienced a surprising resurgence on Netflix, joining the platform’s global Top Ten list and breathing new life into its reception.

Dwayne Johnson’s foray into the DCEU arrived at a precarious moment for the franchise, which was already grappling with its own challenges. With expectations riding high, “Black Adam” failed to captivate audiences and critics alike, reflected in its meager 38% Rotten Tomatoes score. Even with Johnson’s star power and the inclusion of Henry Cavill’s Superman in a cameo role, the film struggled to make a lasting impact.

The disappointing box office performance of “Black Adam” mirrored the fate of several other DC offerings released in 2023, pointing to shifting audience preferences in the wake of the pandemic. It seems that while there is an audience for such content, the traditional cinematic experience may not be their preferred avenue of consumption. Instead, the vast and diverse subscriber base of Netflix has proven to be a lucrative platform for films like “Black Adam,” reaching viewers who may not actively seek out such content but are willing to give it a chance when it appears in their recommended feeds.

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This resurgence of interest in “Black Adam” on Netflix echoes similar occurrences in the past, where other films with lackluster theatrical releases, such as the 2019 “Hellboy” reboot and “The Legend of Tarzan,” found renewed popularity on the streaming platform. The phenomenon underscores the evolving landscape of the film industry, where streaming platforms like Netflix play a pivotal role in revitalizing the fortunes of films that may have faltered initially.

However, while Netflix’s ability to provide a second chance for underperforming films is promising for studios, it also underscores the precarious position of traditional cinemas. Recent reports indicating a preference for streaming over theatrical experiences among a significant portion of the audience highlight the challenges faced by cinemas in attracting audiences back to the big screen.

As the industry grapples with these shifts, the success of upcoming blockbuster releases like “Dune: Part Two” and “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” may offer valuable insights into the future of theatrical releases. With highly anticipated films like “Deadpool & Wolverine,” “Beetlejuice Beetlejuice,” and “Wicked: Part One” slated for release later in the year, the profitability of the theatrical experience will become clearer over time.

Ezra Miller as The Flash running with the Speed Force in Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)

In conclusion, “Black Adam’s” unexpected resurgence on Netflix serves as a testament to the platform’s influence in reshaping the fortunes of films that may have initially struggled at the box office. As the film industry navigates these changes, the future of theatrical releases remains uncertain, with streaming platforms playing an increasingly significant role in shaping audience preferences and consumption habits.

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