2023 Box Office Preview: Warner Bros.

© 2022 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

2023 will be a transition year for one of Hollywood’s legendary studios as it completes its merger with Discovery. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has expressed a renewed commitment to theatrical exhibition, telling investors in an August 2022 earnings call that the studio “will fully embrace theatrical”—but questions remain as to what that precisely means for their theatrical slate. 

High Expectations

Shazam! Fury of the Gods

March 17, 2023

Audiences won’t be able to get a glimpse at Warner Bros.’ new DC Films banner in 2023, giving the entire DC Extended Universe a “lame duck” designation as the old generation of films and heroes play out their respective runs in theaters this year. The original Shazam! was a pleasant surprise at the box office when it opened to $53M in April 2019, en route to a $140M domestic total. The sequel will have to top those numbers to maintain its relevance as the DC slate enters a period under new management. – Daniel Loria

The Flash

June 23, 2023

Warner Bros. is facing a very difficult marketing challenge for its upcoming release of The Flash, balancing the public appearances of embattled star Ezra Miller on the back of serious criminal allegations. Footage screened at CinemaCon 2022 featured several scenes with former Batman star Michael Keaton reprising his role as The Dark Knight, receiving positive reactions from exhibitors in attendance. – Daniel Loria

Dune: Part Two

November 3, 2023 

The second half of Denis Villeneuve’s two-part adaptation of the epic sci-fi novel comes to theaters on November 3. The first part, released in October 2021, was part of the crop of Warner Bros. to debut day-and-date on HBO Max, leading to a $41M opening weekend and $108M domestic run. The latest installment, opening exclusively in theaters, is expected to surpass those figures. – Daniel Loria

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

December 25, 2023

Perhaps the one title from the current crop of the DC Extended Universe titles to come in with cross-quadrant appeal and goodwill from audiences. The original Aquaman opened to $67.8M and finished its domestic run comfortably over the $300M mark, becoming the #5 release of 2018. A crowded Christmas corridor, along with a string of prior DCEU titles with diminishing returns at the box office, will be difficult obstacles for the sequel to overcome in order to match those numbers. – Daniel Loria

Breakout Contenders

Magic Mike’s Last Dance

February 10, 2023

Whatever Magic Mike’s Last Dance earns in theaters, it will be more than it was originally intended to make; the Steven Soderbergh-directed threequel was originally set as a streaming-exclusive release before Warner Bros. announced last September that it would come out in theaters. Comps here run across a wide range; the first two Magic Mike films earned $113.7M and $66M, respectively, while other pandemic-era Channing Tatum releases came in at $61.7M (2021’s Dog) and $105.3M (2022’s The Lost City). – Rebecca Pahle

The Meg 2: The Trench

August 4, 2023

What better month than August to release a movie about a giant killer shark? The Meg 2: The Trench hits theaters after the bulk of the summer’s high-profile tentpoles have already come out—a corridor that worked well for its predecessor, 2018’s The Meg, which rode its August 10 release date to an eventual $145.5M domestic cume. That would be a big number for The Meg 2 to match; a similar oceanic action duo, 2017’s 47 Meters Down ($44.3M) and 2019’s 47 Meters Down: Uncaged ($22.2), saw a -50.2 percent drop between films. Other recent comparables include 2016’s The Shallows ($55.1M) and January 2020’s Underwater ($17.2M). – Rebecca Pahle

The Nun 2

September 8, 2023

2022 proved a solid year for horror, with films like Smile and Barbarian outperforming expectations amid an otherwise slim slate. Hoping to capture some of that magic is New Line Cinema’s The Nun 2, sequel to 2018’s The Nun, itself a spinoff of Warner Bros.’ popular Conjuring franchise. The Nun 2 director Michael Chaves previously helmed a pair of films within that universe: 2019’s The Curse of La Llorona ($54.7M) and 2021’s day-and-date release The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It ($65.6M). The first Nun film, directed by Corin Hardy, earned $117.M domestically. – Rebecca Pahle

Wonka

December 15, 2023

Timothée Chalamet stars in this Willy Wonka origin story, directed and co-written by Paul King. King’s last two feature films, Paddington ($76.2M) and Paddington 2 ($40.9), were both critical darlings. In terms of box office, Warner Bros. doubtless hopes for something more along the lines of Tim Burton’s 2005 film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ($206.4M), as compared to a more recent live-action film based on a classic of children’s literature: 2020’s critically drubbed Dolittle ($77M), the pandemic-abbreviated release of which failed to crack the $100M mark. – Rebecca Pahle

Warner Bros. 2023 Theatrical Release Schedule

House Party; © 2022 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

House Party

January 13, 2023

Mummies

February 24, 2023

Shazam! Fury of the Gods

March 17, 2023

Evil Dead Rise

April 21, 2023

The Meg 2: The Trench

August 4, 2023

Blue Beetle

August 18, 2023

The Nun 2

September 8, 2023

Dune: Part Two

November 3, 2023

Wonka

December 15, 2023

The Color Purple

December 20, 2023

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

December 25, 2023

Warner Bros. 2022 Results

Total Domestic Box Office: $940.5M

Top 2022 Titles:

Photo Credits: Warner Bros. (“The Batman”)

The Batman

Domestic earnings in 2022: $369.3M

Released: March 4, 2022

With new director Matt Reeves and new star Robert Pattinson, this retooled version of Bruce Wayne out-earned the character’s two prior live-action installments, both starring Ben Affleck: 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ($330.3M) and 2017’s Justice League ($229.0M). – Jesse Rifkin 

© 2022 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Black Adam

Domestic earnings in 2022: $168M

Released: October 21, 2022

After earning considerably less than such DC Comics origin stories as 2017’s Wonder Woman ($412.5M) and 2018’s Aquaman ($335.0M), “Black Adam will not be in the first chapter of [DC’s future] storytelling,” lead star Dwayne Johnson confirmed on Twitter in December. “However, DC [has] agreed to continue exploring the most valuable ways Black Adam can be utilized in future DC multiverse chapters.” – Jesse Rifkin 

© 2022 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Elvis

Domestic earnings in 2022: $151M

Released: June 24, 2022

The biopic had its financial doubters. A few weeks before it opened, Washington Post Magazine ran an entire feature story essentially about how Elvis Presley was no longer that popular with Millennials or Generation Z. But the film ended up out-earning such music biopics as 2005’s Walk the Line ($119.5M), 2019’s Rocketman ($96.3M), 2004’s Ray ($75.3M), and December’s I Wanna Dance with Somebody. – Jesse Rifkin 

© 2022 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

Domestic earnings in 2022: $95.8M

Released: April 15, 2022

Despite a screenplay by J.K. Rowling herself and a director credit from David Yates, who directed some of the most popular Harry Potter installments, the third Fantastic Beasts installment earned less than 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them ($234.0M) and 2018’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald ($159.5M). In November, Variety reported that Warner Bros. has put the planned fourth and fifth installments in limbo. – Jesse Rifkin 

© 2022 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

DC League of Super‐Pets

Domestic earnings in 2022: $93.6M

Released: July 29, 2022

Despite the word “DC” in its title and a voice cast including Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, this film fell below Universal’s April animated release The Bad Guys ($97.2M), an outcome which few would have predicted pre-release. A lack of animated titles on the calendar gave the film a longer-than-expected staying power in theaters, including a brief resurgence over National Cinema Day in September. – Jesse Rifkin 

© 2022 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Don’t Worry Darling

Domestic earnings in 2022: $45.3M

Released: September 23, 2022

A tumultuous press tour kept Olivia Wilde’s sophomore feature in the news leading up to the film’s release. Once it opened, however, audiences proved to be as unforgiving as the gossip blogs keeping tabs on the title. After debuting with $19.3M, the film’s poor reception resulted in a steep -62% sophomore weekend drop. That was far steeper than some other adult-skewing September releases which opened around $20M, like 2011’s Moneyball (-38%), 2012’s Looper (-42%), September’s The Woman King (-42%), 2019’s Ad Astra (-47%), and 2013’s Prisoners (-48%). – Jesse Rifkin 

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