Black Adam Made Nearly $400 Million At The Box Office. Why That Wasn’t Enough

Dwayne Johnson spent years hyping up his eventual appearance in the DC universe as Black Adam and when the movie finally arrived, while it did make headlines, they were mostly for Henry Cavill, which then became its own thing. We now know that, while there might be a Black Adam 2 one day, it’s not a priority at DC Films, and one has to assume its lackluster box office performance is a significant part of the reason for that.

Black Adam has made over $$391 million at the global box office, which is not a small amount of money. That number still makes it the 14th highest grossing movie in the world, which is a significant achievement. It made more money than films like Jordan Peele’s Nope or The Black Phone, which is seen as one of the biggest horror movie hits in years. And yet, for Black Adam the amount just wasn’t enough. 

Why Black Adam’s Box Office Numbers Don’t Add Up To Success

The biggest reason that Black Adam is seen as a flop while other films that made less are considered hits has to do with what these movies cost to make. While production budgets aren’t public knowledge, there are some details released and estimates that can be made. It’s been reported by THR that Black Adam’s initial budget was set at $190 million, but that due to larger than expected reshoots, the budget increased to $260 million.

Production budgets also do not include the marketing costs of a film. The money that’s spent to promote the project, by doing everything from producing trailers to flying The Rock to CinemaCon to appear in front of the media, gets added to the film’s actual costs and can easily exceed $100 million for a movie of this size. 

Finally, you have the fact that the box office number is a gross number, and is not an actual representation of what the studio made. Box office receipts are split between the studio and the theaters, and while the studios tend to take the majority of the money, and have been known to demand even more on high profile films, there’s still a significant fraction taken out by theaters. In international markets, where Black Adam made more than half of its total, the studio tends to get a smaller percentage than it does domestically, due to agreements with the various nations and theaters.

Will We See Black Adam 2? 

There a rule of thumb that says that a movie needs to make triple its budget at the box office to be successful, so if we use those numbers, Black Adam would have needed to  make between $600 million and $750 million to be a success, depending on what budget number we use, and Black Adam missed the low end of that significantly. That’s not to say that Black Adam will ultimately be a failure.

Some numbers released and promoted by The Rock argue that Black Adam will make a modest profit. And there are places the film will continue to make money. It’s currently available for Digital purchase and will be available on Blu-ray and as a digital rental beginning next month. Those sales will be added to the profits of the film, and while not technically part of these numbers, merchandise sales for Black Adam will also be taken into account when considering the project's overall success.

In the end, it seems that new DC Films heads James Gunn and Peter Safran, while not against a return for Black Adam entirely, aren’t keeping the character in the plans for the first phase of DC films. If the movie had been a smash hit however, it would be difficult for them to ignore it. 

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.