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Box Office: ‘Shazam’ Eyes $40 Million-Plus Opening Weekend

Warner Bros.’ “Shazam” could grow to as much as $40 million in ticket sales when it hits North American theaters on April 5, early tracking suggests.

Hailing from DC’s arsenal of warriors, “Shazam” is Hollywood’s latest attempt to cash in on the golden age of superheroes at the box office. The movie follows Billy Batson (Asher Angel), a teenager who transforms into a bubble-gum-popping superhero (Zachary Levi) when someone says the magic word.

Described as a cross between “Big” and “Superman,” “Shazam” looks to be a lighter, more comical approach compared to DC’s less beloved Justice League adventures. “Shazam” is the product of a multi-year course correct from DC Entertainment as the studio attempts to fashion an alternative to the ironclad Marvel Cinematic Universe. DC has deviated from the days of a raspy-voiced Batman shrouded with dark plot lines and even darker film frames, instead putting the spotlight on a more inclusive bunch of heroes that also includes Gal Gadot’s “Wonder Woman” and Jason Momoa’s “Aquaman.”

“Shazam” comes on the heels of “Aquaman,” the studio’s aquatic adventure that rocked the box office with a massive $1.14 billion worldwide. “Shazam” doesn’t need to reach those heights to become a hit. It carries a $80 million production budget, before accounting for marketing and distribution, less than half of what it cost to make “Aquaman.” Like “Aquaman,” Warner Bros. is building buzz for “Shazam” by giving comic-book nuts a chance to see the movie on the big screen two weeks ahead of its official release. The studio partnered with Fandango to offer advance screenings in 1,200 locations on March 23.

“Shazam” will open alongside Paramount’s supernatural horror movie “Pet Sematary” and STX’s drama “The Best of Enemies.” The three new movies will also be taking on the second weekend of Disney’s “Dumbo” remake and the third outing of Universal’s “Us,” the latest thriller from Jordan Peele.

While “Shazam” will likely rule domestic box office charts, “Pet Sematary” also looks to have a solid start. The second film adaptation of the Stephen King novel could make between $21 million and $28 million during its first three days of release, according to industry tracking. Insiders at Paramount contend the opening weekend number will be closer to mid-twenties. Starring Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, and John Lithgow, the movie follows a family who, upon moving to rural Maine, discovers their new home is located near a mysterious burial ground that sets off a chain of horrific events.

“The Best of Enemies” centers on a civil rights activist (Taraji P. Henson) and a Ku Klux Klan leader (Sam Rockwell) who co-chair a community meeting dealing with a court-ordered school desegregation decree. It’s on track to earn $7 million to $11 million during its debut.

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