Shazam 2 Will Now Open Against Avatar 2, And That Is A Very Bad Idea

Warner Bros. did a whole lot of shuffling with its release calendar last week, and it moved quite a few big DC movies around, with "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" and "The Flash" getting pushed to 2023, while The Rock's "Black Adam" will now have to wait until October. But one of the biggest moves was shifting the release of "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" up by quite a lot, shifting from summer 2023 to December of this year. 

Unfortunately, this move puts the sequel right up against James Cameron's "Avatar 2" on December 16, 2022, which was originally where the "Aquaman" sequel was going to surface. Forcing "Fury of the Gods" to directly compete with Cameron's decade-plus-in-the-making sequel to the highest-grossing movie of all time is, to put it lightly, a bad idea. Even in the best-case scenario, Warner Bros. will likely be shortchanging a potential breakout hit.

Avatar 2 is going to dominate

Shortly after the news broke, "Avatar 2" began trending on Twitter, with many fans suggesting that the sequel was poised to lose out to the "Shazam!" sequel. Even director David F. Sandberg got in on the fun with a good-natured joke.

Any jokes aside, let's be very clear about one thing; "Avatar 2" is absolutely going to dominate at the box office. Sure, some people wonder who might care about this movie 13 years removed from the original, but let us never forget that "Avatar" remains the highest-grossing movie of all time with $2.84 billion at the global box office. It even lost the crown to "Avengers: Endgame" for a little bit but then was able to steal that crow right back thanks to a very successful re-release in China last year, where "Avatar" nabbed another $57.7 million.

And that really just illustrates the point here. "Avatar" managed to make nearly $60 million in China alone last year with a simple re-release. Imagine what a wide re-release could do in anticipation of Cameron's long-awaited sequel. To that end, even if Film Twitter would have you believe that nobody cares about "Avatar 2," every bit of available hard data would indicate that is incorrect. Twitter is a bubble, and people all around the world are probably going to line up to see what Cameron has cooked up after all this time. Even if the sequel makes less than half of what its predecessor made, we're looking at an absolutely massive hit that should easily sail to well over $1 billion at the global box office.

Sure, we haven't seen a lick of footage from "Avatar 2" yet (as of this writing), but that hardly matters. In the same way that "Avengers: Endgame" was pretty much always going to be a big hit no matter what. Would it help if Cameron pulls a "Terminator 2" here and makes a sequel that far outdoes the original? No question! But given that is a likely scenario, it only further cements the point that Disney has a close-to-guaranteed monster box office hit on its hands, and it will be the dominant film on its opening weekend — not to mention for the weeks that follow.

The state of the box office

The pandemic upended the movie business, particularly the theatrical side of things, with every studio in town still trying to figure out the best path forward. One thing that has been made abundantly clear is that audiences will only turn out with regularity for big blockbusters set within big franchises, particularly superhero movies. Look at "Venom: Let there Be Carnage," "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," "Spider-Man: No Way Home," and most recently, "The Batman." Another thing that has been made clear during the last year and change is that there really isn't room for more than one big movie at a time right now.

Every studio moved well out of the way of "The Batman," leaving absolutely nothing in its path for a full three weeks, which is a problem in itself, but the main point is that nobody wants to risk having another big-budget movie flop in competing with a big superhero. No, "Avatar 2" is not a superhero film but it's poised to perform like one, and if we've learned anything it's that it's going to be very hard to expect there to be room for two huge blockbusters on the same weekend. Something will give and the result will not be good for someone, most likely Warner Bros. in this case.

Will it be that both "Avatar 2" and "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" kneecap each other on some level, resulting in lower-than-expected returns for both movies? Or will it be that "Shazam!" drowns Cameron's wake, resulting in a relative disaster for a sequel to a surprise hit? Not to naysay here but there is virtually no chance that "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" comes out of this fight better off than the "Avatar" sequel. The original "Shazam!" did well, and "Fury of the Gods" could easily be another solid hit for Warner Bros. in the right release window — which is all the more reason not to waste it by smashing it against the brick wall of "Avatar 2."

Shazam! Fury of the Gods has major breakout potential

The real shame of this for everyone involved in the film, and fans who are eagerly anticipating it, is that "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" has the makings of a sequel that can far exceed the earnings of its predecessor. The first "Shazam!" debuted to stellar reviews and, with a relatively modest (for a superhero movie) budget of $100 million, it earned a very respectable $366 million globally. That was enough for Warner Bros. to green light a sequel, presumably with a higher budget and more spectacle.

While it is not an easy thing to quantify, "Shazam!" is a movie that seemed to garner a much larger fanbase than its box office would seem to imply. A lot of people found it after it left theaters, no doubt encouraged to by those who did see it. That, coupled with the recent string of acclaimed DC movies such as "Joker," "The Suicide Squad," and "The Batman" could push interest for the sequel to another level. Every indication points to "Fury of the Gods" grossing more than the first movie did, assuming it doesn't have to go up against a movie like "Avatar 2."

Look at "John Wick: Chapter 2," which built on a similar type of buzz that swelled up after the first movie quietly did decent business but found a huge audience after the fact, leading the sequel earning $171 million, more than double the first movie's $76 million take. Sticking in the DC universe, we can look at one of the most prominent examples in history with "Batman Begins" taking in $358 million only for "The Dark Knight" to swoop in three years later and make $1 billion globally.

With added star power in the form of Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, and "West Side Story" breakout Rachel Zegler, "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" is certainly the kind of movie that can have that sort of extra juicy success when compared to the original. But only if Warner Bros. wises up and doesn't stick to this pointless box office showdown. Sticking to this date seems foolish and only serves to hurt an exciting franchise within the DC universe. It is a needless risk that the studio does not need to take. Unless "Avatar 2" is delayed yet again (and Disney seems firm with this date), this isn't going to be a showdown so much as it's going to be a knockout.