Shazam! Fury Of The Gods Director Reacts To Avatar 2 Competition

Zachary Levi as Shazam! in Fury of the Gods/ Zoe Saldana as Neytiri in Avatar: The Way of Water
(Image credit: WB/20th Century Studios)

It’s become exceedingly rare to see more than one major film release hit theaters on a given weekend. Even the highest profile blockbuster is going to see its box office take cut by another major franchise or popular IP, and since no studio wants that, they all tend to stay out of each other’s way. However, unless something changes in the next few months, we’re going to come pretty close to seeing direct franchise competition when Avatar 2 and Shazam! 2 come out within only a few days of each other. But Shazam! director David F. Sandberg isn’t that worried about Avatar.

As things currently stand, the highly anticipated, and long awaited Avatar: The Way of Water is set to open in theaters on December 16, while Shazam: Fury of the Gods will follow less than a week later on December 21. While Shazam! is certainly in a better spot than the Aquaman sequel was, it’s as close as we’ve seen major releases get in the modern era, but as David F. Sandberg recently told Slashfilm, he believes there’s plenty of room for both movies to be successful. The director said…

He should be very scared. This is the end of James Cameron. (laughs) No, I think it's actually good, because they're such different movies. I mean, look at the first 'Avatar.' There were other movies that came out at the same time and did really well ... especially at Christmas ... everybody knows that 'Avatar' is going to be, like, the biggest movie ever. I'm going to go see it. But yeah, there's room for 'Shazam!' too.

David F. Sandberg is correct in his assessment. The original Avatar opened on essentially the same weekend back in 2009 that Avatar 2 will occupy this year. Five days later, on the Wednesday before Christmas, the same date Shazam 2 will open, saw the release of another sequel, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squakqual. The Chipmunks movie would go on to gross nearly $220 million domestically which, while it was obviously a fraction of what the original Avatar would do, is significantly more than the $140 million that was grossed by the first Shazam!. 

The question is likely whether Shazam! and Avatar are different enough. Certainly, the Chipmunks movie appealed to kids, most of whom would have been too young for the more mature Avatar. Shazam!, being on the lighter side of DC, probably also has a younger, and therefore broader, audience than Avatar, but the crossover between the two is still probably greater, as they’ll likely both be PG-13 movies. There were some elements of the first Shazam! that were not young kid friendly.

Of course, there’s also the question of just how well Avatar: The Way of Water will actually do. There’s a modern view of the first movie that, despite its box office dominance, Avatar had little cultural staying power, and thus not as many people will care about the sequel. Although, even if that’s the case, Avatar 2 doesn’t need to become the highest grossing movie of all time, like the first Avatar in order to be successful, or even become the highest grossing movie of the year.

What is clear is that both Avatar and Shazam! can be successful, despite being such direct competition. If they are both successful, perhaps we’ll start to see studios moving their tentpole releases closer together. 

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.