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Blue Beetle's Final Box Office Numbers Are A Total Disaster For DC

"Blue Beetle" is just the latest financial disaster for DC. The year 2023 has been one of the most significant for DC because of the sheer number of misfires and disappointments it's had. This year has seen the release of "Shazam! Fury of the Gods," "The Flash," and "Blue Beetle" — all of which failed to captivate audiences at the box office. While audiences downright rejected Shazam's (Zachary Levi) sophomore outing and the Flash's (Ezra Miller) solo debut, there was still hope for "Blue Beetle." Initially slated to debut on the streaming service known at the time as HBO Max, the film was then given a theatrical release by Warner Bros., signaling confidence in the picture. 

Directed by Ángel Manuel Soto and featuring "Cobra Kai" standout Xolo Maridueña in the lead role, "Blue Beetle" looked like it could have been DC's saving grace. It even received mostly positive reviews — Rotten Tomatoes has the film at 78%, higher than any other DC project released this year. Audiences were receptive to the picture as well, awarding it a warm B+ CinemaScore. Despite genuinely decent buzz, the cinematic debut of "Blue Beetle" fizzled at the box office, with the film all but wrapping up its theatrical run with a worldwide gross of $128 million. 

With a reported budget of $104 million, this makes "Blue Beetle" just another box office disaster for DC. While the film's receipts are disappointing, the failure of "Blue Beetle" is one that's historic for the studio: It's the lowest-grossing film in the DCEU.  

Blue Beetle is a bigger flop than Shazam! 2

During its theatrical run, "Blue Beetle" grossed north of $71 million in domestic cinemas. When compared to the stateside receipts of this year's "Shazam! Fury of the Gods," that's an impressive number, as the Zachary Levi-led film raked in less than $58 million. Note that the first "Shazam!" debuted at $54 million back in 2019 and went on to make a competent $140 million domestically, which makes the failure of "Blue Beetle" and "Fury of the Gods" all the more pronounced. 

While "Blue Beetle" did make a decent chunk of change stateside, it couldn't find momentum internationally, raking in only $56 million. Prior to the film's release, there was hope that the film could find a solid following with the Latin American community, though it failed to make much of an impressionable impact. Leading markets included Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Australia. With such mediocre international receipts, DC's latest was doomed to fail. 

When compared to the final total of "Shazam! Fury of the Gods," which grossed $132 million worldwide earlier this year, "Blue Beetle" is about $4 million behind, making the Xolo Maridueña-led film the DCEU's lowest-grossing film of all time. With a final worldwide total of $128 million, "Blue Beetle" will likely remain in the last spot considering "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" has wider appeal and more brand recognition. While it remains to be seen how much Jason Momoa's sophomore outing as "Aquaman" rakes in, it sure won't be as much of a financial disappointment as "Blue Beetle."

Why Blue Beetle failed at the box office

The cracks are beginning to show for the larger superhero genre. No film involving caped crusaders or intergalactic heroes has grossed over $1 billion since 2021's "Spider-Man: No Way Home," signaling a growing decline in interest in the genre. While Marvel does have a hit with this year's "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3," the threequel failed to outgross its 2017 predecessor. If Marvel has its woes, then DC is going through an existential crisis. 

Critically, "Blue Beetle" functioned as the crowdpleaser that DC needed, but it just couldn't get momentum in terms of tickets sold. Over the last few months, the conversation surrounding DC has pivoted to indifference, with many claiming that it's moot to see the studio's latest offerings considering James Gunn and Peter Safran are on track to reboot the franchise anyway. It certainly didn't help that "Blue Beetle" was essentially sent to die, thanks in part to its lack of marketing and competitive release date, which saw its debut at the tail end of the summer, suffering competition from "Gran Turismo," "The Equalizer 3," and the "Barbenheimer" twin flames. 

With a lack of interest in the brand, less-than-stellar marketing, and quiet competition from more interesting projects, "Blue Beetle" was just another sacrificial lamb that Warner Bros. sent to the theatrical slaughterhouse. What does the studio think of the DC film's failure? Warner Bros. put the blame on Tropical Storm Hilary (per Exhibitor Relations Co.), which hit Southern California during its debut weekend.