Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's future in the DC Universe is currently looking unclear, as his DC Superhero movie Black Adam continues to struggle at the box office. It's now being reported that the underperformance of Black Adam has made Johnson's future in the DC franchise much more unclear, as the new DC Studios era begins under James Gunn and Peter Safran. With rumors now swirling that Gunn and Safran are close to revealing their plans for the DCU, figuring out how The Rock's Black Adam fits into the mix (or not) is indeed a big piece of the puzzle.
THR has the following to report from their sources:
Also unlikely is a sequel to Black Adam. Despite the hype surrounding the movie of launching a new corner of DC, a lot of it led by star Dwayne Johnson, the movie has only grossed $385 million worldwide and insiders at the studio say the movie, which cost more than $190 million to produce (two sources peg the actual cost at $230 million, not including marketing), will be lucky to break even, even considering ancillary revenue. Even if the movie does eke out a minimal profit, any follow-up's inherent rising costs dim the prospect of a sequel.
Logistically, Black Adam not doing well enough to warrant a sequel makes a certain amount of sense, from a business perspective: if the first film wasn't a big success, doubling-down on a more expensive sequel is certainly a risk. That said, there was always more room for The Rock to be a presence in the DCU outside of a solo Black Adam franchise: the film's post-credts scene set up Adam for a Justice League connection via Henry Cavill's Superman; Black Adam is also a character deeply rooted in the Shazam! franchise, which had fans hoping for an eventual crossover between the two movie franchises. Heading into Black Adam's opening weekend (and before the DC Studios announcement), speculation was going so far as to say that Johnson and his production venture Seven Bucks could become the new shepherds of the entire DC Movie Universe.
However, now rumors are saying that The Rock doing a one-man PR show for Black Adam may be rubbing Warner Bros. Discovery executives the wrong way:
Johnson hoped to carve out his own piece of the DC pie, but multiple sources say his playing up of a returning Cavill and his own involvement with DC may not be endearing him to the new management... The perception of Adam turning a profit or not is a conflagration now being waged in public, with Johnson tweeting the movie would net over $50 million after a Variety story said the movie would lose over $50 million theatrically.
To be fair, Dwayne Johnson hasn't been the only one to refute the idea of Black Adam profiting in theaters:
"I have read the claims that Black Adam will lose money. That is false," producer and financier Joe Singer, told Deadline. "The picture may be considered disappointing since it had Dwayne Johnson in a DC film. However, the picture will pass break-even and throw off a bit of profit."
Singer also seems confident that Johnson will still be a part of the DC franchise, going forward, noting that "Sequel and franchises are the life blood of our business. They have a reduced risk profile and generally a higher upside. The fact that there are discussions about a Black Adam sequel is how a studio builds long-term sustainable value."
For his part, DC Studios co-head James Gunn has responded to these reports, stating that "some of it is true, some of it is half-true, some of it is not true, & some of it we haven't decided yet whether it's true or not."
While there is no way to know for sure right now, it at least feels like Black Adam and The Rock's DC future fall under the "haven't decided yet" category.
Black Adam is still playing in theaters, and is available VOD.