Will “Blue Beetle,” the latest DC superhero adaptation, knock down “Barbie” at the domestic box office?
It may be a closer-than-expected race between the two Warner Bros. releases for the top spot, despite “Barbie” entering its fifth weekend in theaters. “Blue Beetle,” starring Xolo Maridueña as the alien symbiote, is targeting $25 million to $32 million in its debut. The comic book adventure is landing on Friday in 3,850 venues, including some Imax screens.
Meanwhile, “Barbie” is expected to add a stellar $17 million to $20 million over the weekend. With $537.4 million in North America, Greta Gerwig’s very pink comedy is closing in on Universal’s “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” ($574 million) as the highest-grossing release of the year. The juggernaut has impressively remained the No. 1 movie for four consecutive weekends and recently overtook Christopher Nolan’s 2008 superhero epic “The Dark Knight” ($536 million) as the biggest domestic release in Warner Bros. history.
“Blue Beetle” cost $125 million and is the third of four DC films to open theatrically in 2023. It’s hoping to avoid a similar box office fate as the comic book studio’s two prior misfires: “Shazam: Fury of the Gods,” which missed projections in March with its $30.1 million debut, and “The Flash,” which fell short of expectations in June with $55 million to start. After “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,” a sequel to the billion-dollar 2018 blockbuster, opens in December, the studio’s new chiefs James Gunn and Peter Safran plan to push the faltering comic book universe in an entirely new direction.
Ángel Manuel Soto directed “Blue Beetle,” which was originally commissioned for HBO Max but changed to secure a theatrical release. The story centers on a college graduate named Jaime Reyes, who returns to his hometown of Palmera City. He’s chosen to become a symbiotic host to an ancient alien biotech relic that turns him into the superhero known as Blue Beetle.
“Blue Beetle” will open alongside Universal’s R-rated comedy “Strays,” which is looking to dig up $15 million to $17 million over the weekend. It cost $46 million to bring to the big screen. When it comes to recent theatrical comedies, a rare breed in Hollywood these days, the projected ticket sales are better than Bert Kreischer’s stand-up inspired “The Machine” (which crumbled with $5 million) and on par with Jennifer Lawrence’s raunchy “No Hard Feelings” ($15 million). But it may not reach the initial heights of Universal’s drug-fueled “Cocaine Bear” ($23 million).
Will Ferrell leads the pack in “Strays,” which follows a gullible Border terrier named Reggie who gathers a group of abandoned pups to exact revenge on his ruthless prior owner, Doug (Will Forte). The formidable voice cast also includes Jamie Foxx, Isla Fisher, Randall Park, Josh Gad and Sofía Vergara.
Because of the ongoing SAG strike, the casts of “Blue Beetle” and “Strays” have not been permitted to promote the movies on talk shows or in the press. Recent summer releases, like Disney’s “The Haunted Mansion,” shark sequel “Meg 2: The Trench” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem,” faced the same predicament. In the case of “Blue Beetle,” Warner Bros. held a star-free “fan screening” since it wasn’t able to mount a splashy Hollywood premiere.