A teaser trailer for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom just dropped after the movie had three rounds of reshoots and numerous test screenings. The superhero sequel to 2018's Aquaman is directed by James Wan and stars Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, and Patrick Wilson.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, a third round of reshoots involving Momoa and Wilson took place in mid-June. That is unusual even for a movie as massive as Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. From the summer of 2022 until the beginning of 2023, many underwhelming test screenings prompted Warner Bros. to request more reshoots, which add even more costs on top of the film's reported $205 million budget.
DC Superhero Movies Are Tanking at Warner Bros. Lately
As reported earlier on Wealth of Geeks, the golden age of superhero movies is behind us, especially as far as DC superheroes are concerned. Blue Beetle had the second-lowest box office opening in DC Extended Universe history. Only Wonder Woman 1984, which opened on much fewer screens in 2020 early in the pandemic, had a softer opening weekend. Shazam! Fury of the Gods opened with just over $30 million and cost over $125 million to make. Another much-hyped DCEU movie, The Flash, barely grossed over $100 million domestically and cost over $220 million to make. Black Adam, starring Dwayne Johnson, also had a reported budget north of $190 million, but the movie only made $168 million domestically by the end of its run. Collectively, all of the movies just mentioned will cost Warner Bros. millions and millions of dollars.
To say Warner Bros. has a lot riding on Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom investment is the understatement of the year. 2018's Aquaman is the most successful DCEU movie, making over $1.148 billion at the global box office, so Warner Bros. can't afford another The Flash debacle. Speaking of The Flash, Michael Keaton appears in that movie as Batman and filmed a scene for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, but shifting release dates prompted Warner Bros. to authorize a reshot scene with Ben Affleck as Batman for the Aquaman sequel. Now, it's unclear whether either of those scenes will make it to the final cut. Keaton was also a major player in Batgirl, a $90-million “oops” that Warner Bros. refuses to release.
In addition to reshoots, underwhelming test screenings, recent failed DCEU movies, and the Keaton continuity problem for Aquaman 2, the inclusion of Amber Heard also factors into the release of the film. After losing the well-publicized Depp v. Heard trial, a petition to remove Heard from Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom obtained more than two million signatures. The financial impact her unpopularity on social media will have on the movie is unclear, but it's not going to help.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom opens in theaters everywhere on December 20. It is the final movie in the DCEU.