Summer movie-going is not done just yet: in the waning days of the season, there are four more studio releases before Labor Day. Universal’s R-rated animal comedy “Strays” opens this Friday, while Sony has the delayed “Gran Turismo” on August 25 and “The Equalizer 3” (Sony) on September 1. Most intriguing, though? Friday’s other big release.
DC Comics’ “Blue Beetle” (Warner Bros.) will arrive this weekend alongside “Strays,” and it appears to be the biggest question mark left on the release calendar, with the potential to rise above the others and exceed expectations in the process. But whatever it ultimately grosses, its release raises a number of interesting questions likely to be a big part of next weekend’s analysis, with the potential to have an impact on production decisions as well as current distribution decisions.
Here are some of the intriguing elements that will be looked at by industry insiders:
What is the potential for a Latino-content mass market movie?
No audience, particularly compared to its share of domestic moviegoers, is represented on screen less than Latinos. A big-budget, Latino-centric feature (“Blue Beetle” reportedly cost $120 million) is even less common than one with a predominantly Black cast.
That’s why no one is quite sure how this will fare. Pre-opening projections have “Blue Beetle” picking up around $30 million in its first weekend, which is nothing special compared to other DC Comics films made at this same cost. But that would still be an encouraging figure, particularly if it leads to good word of mouth going into a September with less competition.
Will a wider comic book movie fandom be interested?
The “Black Panther” films certainly had a versatile audience beyond a perceived core Black base, and usually comic book movies have attracted a diverse crowd. If that happens here, along with Latino support, it will elevate similar projects.
Pre-release of reviews, word on “Blue Beetle” is that, although it features a less-known character, young Jaime Reyes, a recent college grad turned into a superhero, it’s similar to “Spider-Man,” which also emphasizes the experience of a young man close to his family who develops amazing powers.
Could it replace “Barbie” as #1?
Figure that Greta Gerwig’s still-strong film does $20-23 million this weekend. Both “Strays” and “Blue Beetle” could do more than that — and get bragging rights as the film that dethroned the reigning queen. Ranking wins like this can be overplayed, but it will gain whatever film accomplishes this feat a lot of attention.
Could international generate strong results?
The Spanish-speaking world is hardly monolithic, any more than film tastes are the same in the United States, Britain, and Australia. The film’s team is rooted in different cultures — director Ángel Manuel Soto is Puerto Rican, writer Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer was born in Mexico, lead actor Xolo Maridueña hails from Los Angeles. Latin American countries, led by Mexico (“Coco” in 2017 grossed almost $60 million there) might provide a big boost. If so, it would only buttress similar future films.
DC Comics could use some good news
“The Flash,” of course, was a financial failure, but earlier films like “Black Adam” and “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” were less than stellar. If this can at reach at least their levels (and “Adam” and “Flash” were much more expensive), it would be a morale booster for beleaguered DC as they restructure their ailing label.
A test for theatrical versus Max
After Warner Bros. strategic crisis in 2020-21, when they seemed to be looking to prioritize streaming, this originally-set-for-Max project was elevated to a theatrical release. A good showing here would only justify that decision, and potentially impact the future of other projects like it.
The impact of strike publicity limitations
Star Xolo Maridueña is a rising name after his “Cobra Kai” turn, and is joined in “Blue Beetle” with well-known veterans like Damián Alcázar, George Lopez, and Adrianna Barraza. If this falls short, fingers will be pointed on the inability to use this wide range of talent for the usual publicity hits.
The push to a $4 billion summer
With three weeks left, this summer’s seasonal gross has reached $3.6 billion. The tail end of the summer tends to taper off dramatically, but along with the ongoing success of “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” if $4 billion is to be achieved (the original hope, seemingly unlikely, then suddenly possible), “Blue Beetle” is one of the late entries that needs to work to hit that high.