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Box Office: ‘Shazam’ Zaps to $5.9 Million on Thursday

Warner Bros.’ “Shazam!” earned $5.9 million on Thursday in North America, topping “Pet Sematary,” which made $2.3 million.

Shazam!” is expected to nab $45 million to $50 million domestically at 4,217 locations. The DC Comics adventure centers on Billy Batson (Asher Angel), a teenager who can transform into a cheerful superhero (Zachary Levi) when someone says the magic word. David F. Sandberg directed from Henry Gayden’s script.

“Shazam!” has received strong critical support, earning a 92% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with reviewers praising its departure from the self-importance of the genre. Variety’s Owen Gleiberman wrote, “‘Shazam!’ … is just a light, funny, grounded, engagingly unpretentious sleight-of-hand action comedy about a boy in a (super)man’s body.”

If “Shazam!” becomes a hit, it’ll be the third success story in a row for DC Entertainment following “Wonder Woman” and “Aquaman.” Warner Bros. spent $80 million to produce “Shazam!,” roughly half of what it cost to make “Aquaman” and “Wonder Woman.”

“Shazam!” had already earned $3.3 million from advanced screenings two weeks ago as the studio partnered with Fandango to build buzz. Warner Bros. also positioned “Shazam!” a month after Disney’s “Captain Marvel” and three weeks ahead of the studio’s “Avengers: Endgame.”

Pet Sematary,” based on Stephen King’s horror novel, is expected to collect around $20 million at 3,585 sites. The remake premiered as the closing-night film at SXSW and is debuting with a 71% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

“Pet Sematary” stars Jason Clarke as Dr. Louis Creed in the story of a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the Maine woods near the family’s new home. Amy Seimetz and John Lithgow also star. The film comes three decades after the original adaptation of the King classic. “Starry Eyes” helmers Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer directed the movie.

STX’s “The Best of Enemies” took $265,000 at 1,440 venues on Thursday night and goes wide Friday on 1,705 screens. Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell portray a civil rights activist and a KKK leader, respectively, forced to work together to settle a court-ordered school desegregation decree. The feel-good film, based on a true story, should earn between $6 million and $12 million, which would be solid start, given its $10 million price tag.

The weekend should continue the momentum established in March, which saw the second-highest monthly total ever with $962 million. Year-to-date domestic box office was down 17.2%, to $2.43 billion, as of April 3, according to Comscore.

“Two of the most reliable and popular genres in the world of film will have the multiplex bustling with superhero and horror movie aficionados as ‘Shazam!’ and ‘Pet Sematary,’ along with the true-life star-powered drama ‘Best of Enemies,’ offer literally something for everybody at what will be a solid weekend at the box office,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Comscore.

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