Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||David F. Sandberg|
|Produced by||Peter Safran|
|Screenplay by||Henry Gayden|
|Music by||Benjamin Wallfisch|
|Edited by||Michel Aller|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$366 million|
Shazam! is a 2019 American superhero film based on the DC Comics character. Produced by New Line Cinema and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, it is the seventh installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). Directed by David F. Sandberg from a screenplay by Henry Gayden, and a story by Gayden and Darren Lemke, the film stars Asher Angel as Billy Batson, a teenage boy who can transform into an adult superhero, played by Zachary Levi. Mark Strong, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Djimon Hounsou also star. The plot follows Billy Batson, who is chosen by the ancient wizard Shazam as his new champion and receives various superpowers. Billy and his best friend Freddy Freeman (Grazer) must discover Billy's new powers in order to stop the evil Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Strong) and the Seven Deadly Sins.
Development of a live-action Shazam! film began at New Line in the early 2000s but was delayed for many years. The film went into pre-production in 2009 with director Peter Segal and writer John August and Dwayne Johnson considered to star as the villain Black Adam, but the project fell through; Johnson acts as an executive producer on Shazam!. William Goldman, Alec Sokolow, Joel Cohen, Bill Birch, and Geoff Johns, among others, were all attached to the project as writers at various points. The film was officially announced in 2014, with Johnson attached to star as either Shazam or Black Adam. He would later be cast in January 2017 to lead a solo Black Adam development project, currently targeted for a December 2021 release. Sandberg signed on to direct Shazam! in February 2017 and Levi was cast that October, with Angel joining the following month. Principal photography began in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on January 29, 2018, with most of the film shot at Pinewood Toronto Studios, and wrapped on May 11, 2018.
Shazam! was released in the United States by Warner Bros. Pictures in RealD 3D, Dolby Cinema, IMAX, 4DX, IMAX 3D, and ScreenX on April 5, 2019. The film was a box office success having grossed $366 million worldwide. The film received positive reviews from critics, with praise for Sandberg's direction and the performances of Levi, Grazer, and Angel, as well as its generally light tone and sense of fun. A sequel, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, is scheduled to be released on June 2, 2023 and a film about Black Adam is being made.
In 1974, young Thaddeus Sivana is riding in a car with his father and brother when he is suddenly transported to the Rock of Eternity, a magical temple in another dimension. There, the ancient wizard Shazam has spent centuries searching for someone pure of heart on whom to bestow his power and name as champion, after the previous champion released the Seven Deadly Sins which killed the rest of the Council of Wizards. Thaddeus is tempted by the Eye of Sin, through which he hears the voices of the Sins, trapped in stone statues, promising him power if he will free them. The wizard deems Thaddeus unworthy and magically returns him to the car, where he makes a scene that leads to a car accident, crippling his father. The Sins send Thaddeus a message telling him to find them.
In present-day Philadelphia, 14-year-old foster child Billy Batson continually runs away from foster homes to search for his birth mother, from whom he became separated while at a carnival ten years prior. He is placed in a group home run by Victor and Rosa Vasquez, with five other foster children: Mary Bromfield, Pedro Peña, Eugene Choi, Darla Dudley, and superhero enthusiast Freddy Freeman. Meanwhile, the embittered Sivana succeeds in his lifelong quest to find a way back to the Rock of Eternity. He steals the Eye of Sin, becoming the Sins' vessel, bests the wizard, and uses his newfound power to kill his father, brother, and Sivana Industries' board of directors.
At school, Billy defends Freddy from bullies and is chased into a subway, where he is transported to the Rock of Eternity. The wizard chooses Billy to be his new champion: By saying the name "Shazam", Billy is transformed into an adult superhero. The wizard turns to dust, leaving his magical staff behind. At home, Freddy is taken into Billy's confidence and helps him explore his newfound powers, which include super strength, speed, near-invulnerability, and electricity manipulation. By saying "Shazam" again, he can transform back into his normal body. Freddy posts viral videos of the new superhero, and Billy starts skipping school to use his powers to busk for money and fame, straining his friendship with Freddy. When Billy accidentally endangers and then saves a bus full of people, Sivana confronts him, demanding that he surrender his powers. Billy discovers that he can fly, and manages to escape. His foster siblings deduce that he is the superhero, and complete his search for his mother, who lives nearby. Billy rushes to see her, but is disheartened to learn that she abandoned him, having felt inadequate to raise him as a single teenage mother.
Sivana deduces Billy's identity and takes his foster siblings hostage. Billy agrees to transfer his powers to Sivana in exchange for their safety. They go to the Rock of Eternity to use the wizard's staff to effect the transfer, but the children follow and attack Sivana. Billy observes that Sivana becomes vulnerable when all seven Sins leave his body. Sivana pursues them to a winter carnival and unleashes the Sins upon the crowd. Remembering the wizard's words, Billy uses the staff to share his powers with his siblings, transforming them into adult superheroes like him. He then breaks the staff, and his siblings battle the Sins while Billy faces down Sivana. By luring out the final Sin, Envy, Billy makes Sivana vulnerable and yanks the Eye of Sin out of his head, recapturing all the Sins.
Billy and his siblings are hailed as heroes, return the Eye and the Sins to their prison, and realize they can use the Rock of Eternity as their superhero lair. Billy finally accepts his foster parents and siblings as his "real" family. In his superhero form, he has lunch with his siblings at school, revealing to Freddy's surprise that he has also invited Superman. In a mid-credits scene, the imprisoned Sivana is approached by a talking caterpillar,[a] who proposes an alliance.
The film also features John Glover as Mr. Sivana, the estranged father of Dr. Thaddeus Sivana and CEO of Sivana Industries. Glover had previously starred in other DC Comics series and films: Batman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures, and Superman: The Animated Series as The Riddler; Dr. Jason Woodrue in the 1997 film Batman and Robin; and Lionel Luthor, Lex Luthor's father in Smallville. Natalia Safran was cast as Mrs. Sivana, though her scenes were ultimately cut from the film. Caroline Palmer portrays Marilyn Batson, Billy's biological mother. Wayne Ward and Landon Doak portray Sid the bullying brother of Thaddeus Sivana as an adult and a teenager, respectively. Carson MacCormac and Evan Marsh portray Brett and Burke Breyer, bullies at the children's school.
Director David F. Sandberg makes cameo appearances performing as each of the three Crocodile-Men (collaboratively assisted by Steve Newburn and Ned Morill), and provides the voice of the alien lifeform Mister Mind during a mid-credits sequence. Sandberg's wife, actress Lotta Losten, portrays Dr. Lynn Crosby; a researcher working with Dr. Sivana, who is killed by him. Sound designer Bill R. Dean has an uncredited cameo, providing the voice for a Batman toy, while Ryan Hadley, Zachary Levi's stunt double, appears uncredited as a stand-in body double for Superman. Hadley's appearance is a silent cameo, where the character is only seen from the neck down, due to Henry Cavill being unavailable to film the scene.Dwayne Johnson's likeness is used for the mystically-generated holograph of Teth-Adam, which the wizard Shazam conjures while teaching Billy the history of the Rock of Eternity, the Seven Realms of Magic, and his previous Champion. Johnson will portray the titular role in Black Adam.
The Seven Deadly Sins - a supernatural team of villains consisting of the demons Pride, Envy, Greed, Lust, Wrath, Gluttony, and Sloth - were portrayed by stunt doubles in motion capture suits on-set during filming, and depicted on-screen through CGI special effects. Their voices were collectively provided by actors Steve Blum, Darin De Paul, and Fred Tatasciore. In an Easter egg appearance, Andi Osho reprises her role as social worker Emma Glover from Sandberg's debut film Lights Out.
New Line Cinema began development of a Shazam! live-action feature film in the early 2000s, with multiple screenplay drafts, by William Goldman, the team of Alec Sokolow and Joel Cohen, Bryan Goluboff, and John August. The version of the Shazam! script written by August, which went into pre-production in 2008, was an action-comedy which focused on the origin story of the hero, then known by his original name of Captain Marvel, and his young alter ego, Billy Batson.Peter Segal was attached as director and Dwayne Johnson was in talks to appear as the film's villain, Black Adam. New Line Cinema was absorbed into Warner Bros. during the course of development.
Following the success of Warner's Batman film The Dark Knight and the commercial failure of its lighter, family-friendly Speed Racer, both during the summer of 2008, August departed from the project, citing pressure from the studio to make the screenplay darker and more serious. In August 2009, Bill Birch and Geoff Johns, a prominent DC Comics writer, were assigned to write the screenplay, while Segal remained attached as director. In August 2010, the studio considered canceling the theatrical movie in favor of a live-action series for prime time network television. In December 2013, Segal stated that the film would not be happening, as the similarities between Captain Marvel and Superman had become an obstacle after the successful launch of Man of Steel earlier that year.
While development on the Shazam! film was in limbo, DC Comics rebooted the comic book franchise as part of their New 52 relaunch in 2012. Due to ongoing trademark conflicts with Marvel Comics, who owned the trademark for "Captain Marvel" for use with their own character of the same name, DC renamed their Captain Marvel superhero character "Shazam" at this time. DC had been required to market and promote the character using the trademark Shazam!, since acquiring the publishing rights from Fawcett Comics in 1972. Captain Marvel had originated at Fawcett in 1939, but fell into limbo after 1953 following a long legal battle with DC over Captain Marvel's similarities to Superman.
In April 2014, Warner Bros. revealed their upcoming slate of films based on DC Comics properties. A Justice League film was set to be released in 2017, alongside adaptations of Shazam!, Fables, and 100 Bullets. The Shazam! film was tentatively set for release in July 2016. Dwayne Johnson stated he would be starring in Shazam! that August, but was undecided between portraying Shazam or Black Adam. In September, Johnson was cast as Black Adam, while Darren Lemke was set to write the script. In January 2017, Henry Gayden was hired to rewrite Lemke's script. In February 2017, David F. Sandberg was in talks with the studio to direct Shazam!, while Dwayne Johnson was set to star in a Black Adam solo film, as opposed to appearing as the villain in Shazam!, while Doctor Sivana, another nemesis of Shazam, became the Shazam! film's main villain.
By July 2017, the studio had begun active development on Shazam! and Sandberg was confirmed as director, with production to begin in early 2018. Dwayne Johnson relayed that a different creative team was now involved than when he first signed on to the film. After being cast as the lead, Zachary Levi stated in an interview, "the idea is that it's gonna feel like the movie Big, but with super powers," when was asked about the direction DC Films and New Line Cinema are going for with Shazam! Warner Bros. stated that the film would be based on the 2012-2013 Shazam! backup feature from the Justice League comic book, by writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank, which told a modernized version of Shazam's origin.
In August 2017, director David F. Sandberg stated that the film would be the next to shoot in the DC universe, and by the end of the month, it had begun pre-production. By October 2017, cinematographer Maxime Alexandre and production designer Jennifer Spence, who previously worked with Sandberg on Annabelle: Creation, were added to the production. The next month, Aquaman stunt coordinator Kyle Gardiner was hired to work on the film's action sequences. On January 12, 2018, the film's release date was announced as April 19, 2019, later moved to April 5.
By September 2014, Dwayne Johnson was set to portray Black Adam in the film, but by July 2017, he had left the project to pursue a Black Adam solo film. In August 2017, the casting process for Shazam and other characters had begun. Sandberg had stated in an interview that instead of de-aging an actor using special effects or CGI, he would cast both a child actor and an adult actor for the role of the main character.Zachary Levi, John Cena, Zane Holtz, Jake McDorman, Derek Theler and Billy Magnussen all met with and/or auditioned for Sandberg for the role of Shazam.
By October 2017, Levi was cast in the titular role. In November, Grace Fulton joined the cast as Mary Bromfield, one of Billy Batson's foster siblings. Fulton had previously worked with the same director on Annabelle: Creation. Later that month, Mark Strong was in final negotiations to play Dr. Sivana. Strong confirmed he would be playing the role by January 2018. By November 2017, Asher Angel was cast as the titular hero's teenage originator Billy Batson. In December, Jack Dylan Grazer was added as Freddy Freeman, Batson's best friend. Later that month, Jovan Armand, Ian Chen, Faithe Herman, and Cooper Andrews were cast as Pedro Peña, Eugene Choi, and Darla Dudley, with Andrews portraying Victor Vazquez, one of Billy Batson's foster parents.
By January 2018, Ron Cephas Jones entered talks to play the role of the wizard Shazam, who granted Batson his powers. Later that month, Spanish actress Marta Milans joined the cast to play Rosa Vazquez, one of the foster parents at the home where Billy lives. By the end of January 2018, actress Lotta Losten, the wife of director David F. Sandberg, revealed that she has a role in the film. On April 23, 2018, Ross Butler was announced to have joined the cast. By July, Djimon Hounsou had replaced Jones as the wizard Shazam, due to Jones having scheduling conflicts.Henry Cavill was in talks to reprise his role as Superman from previous DCEU films for a cameo, but was unable to because of scheduling.
Principal photography for Shazam! began in Toronto and Hamilton, in Ontario, Canada on January 29, 2018, under the working title Franklin, and wrapped by mid-May 2018. The film was set primarily in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is firmly established within the DCEU. Most of the production was shot at Pinewood Toronto Studios, and also several public locations around the city, including the University of Toronto, Woodbine Shopping Centre, and Hearn Generating Station. In early March 2018, filming took place at Fort York National Historic Site in downtown Toronto. By early May 2018, Asher Angel, among other young cast members, had finished filming his part, and principal photography wrapped on May 11, 2018. Reshoots and additional photography took place in Toronto between November and December 2018. Scenes set at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and well as other location work such as footage of the skyline and aerial shots, were filmed in the city of Philadelphia in December 2018.Shazam! had a production budget of $90-100 million (and about $102 million once post-production was complete), making it the least expensive DCEU film to-date.
David F. Sandberg's two-time collaborator Michel Aller served as the editor for Shazam!. Mike Wassel (Hellboy II: The Golden Army and the Fast & Furious franchise) and Kelvin McIlwain (Aquaman) were the overall visual effects supervisors for the film. Technicolor's VFX studios Mr. X (known for The Shape of Water and Tron: Legacy) and Moving Picture Company (MPC) provided visual effects. Rodeo FX, DNEG, Digital Domain, and Rise FX also worked on the VFX.
On July 21, 2018, Benjamin Wallfisch was announced as the composer for Shazam!, marking his third collaboration with director David F. Sandberg after previously scoring Sandberg's Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation. Wallfisch had also provided additional music for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the second film in the DC Extended Universe.
Wallfisch cited John Williams and scores from 1980s Amblin Entertainment films as inspirations for Shazam!, to match the tone of a film about "an old-school superhero from the Golden Age" In writing the score, Wallfisch stated that he was "picturing what might happen if a 14-year-old was put in front of a 100 piece orchestra and told there were no limits. I wanted the score to feel like it might have been written by an exuberant kid just having the time of his life with an orchestra."
In April 2018, a first look at Shazam! was shown at the CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, as director David F. Sandberg introduced behind-the-scene footage. During an interview with Film Riot Podcast in June 2018, Sandberg stated that "On this one, it was just like 'Yeah, I want this to be a classic superhero movie.' It takes place in the winter, so it's a lot of dark exteriors, but with a lot of colorful lights and stuff around them." On July 21, 2018, the first teaser trailer was shown at San Diego Comic-Con during the Warner Bros. panel at Hall H, with Sandberg, Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, and Jack Dylan Grazer in attendance. The trailer was later released online. It received a favorable response from journalists and audiences, who praised its humorous, zany tone.
New footage from the film made its debut at Brazil Comic Con (CCXP) in São Paulo on December 9, 2018 during the Warner Bros. studio panel, with the footage described for the attendees as action-packed. A new trailer was released on March 4, and a three-minute sneak peek was included with the digital home media of Aquaman. At the STP 500 on March 24, 2019, Shazam! was the primary sponsor of Aric Almirola and the #10 Ford Mustang in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Almirola would go on to finish 9th after starting 2nd. Altogether the studio spent about $105 million promoting the film.
On March 13, 2019, Warner Bros. Pictures announced that they were teaming up with Fandango for exclusive preview screenings on March 23, two weeks before release, on 1,200 select screens and 40 exhibition circuits.Shazam! premiered in Toronto on March 15, 2019, and was theatrically released in the United States by Warner Bros. Pictures in RealD 3D, Dolby Cinema, 4DX, IMAX, ScreenX, and IMAX 3D Formats, on April 5, 2019.
Shazam! was released on digital download on July 2, 2019, and was released on Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD on July 16. The digital and Blu-ray releases include behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes, and gag reels. The film was released on home media in the United Kingdom on August 12, 2019. As of June 19, 2020 , Shazam! has made $8.2 million in DVD sales and $20.4 million in Blu-ray sales, totaling an estimated of $29.1 million in domestic video sales.
Shazam! grossed $140.4 million in the United States and Canada, and $225.6 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $366 million. It was estimated that the film needed to gross $235-250 million worldwide in order to break even, and Deadline Hollywood calculated the film made a net profit of $74 million, when factoring together all expenses and revenues.
In the United States and Canada, Shazam! was released alongside The Best of Enemies and Pet Sematary, and was projected to gross $40-50 million from 4,260 theaters in its opening weekend. Two weeks before its release, the film grossed $3.3 million from Fandango advance screenings, higher than the $2.9 million made by fellow DCEU film Aquaman the previous December. It then made $5.9 million from Thursday night screenings on April 4, for a combined preview total of $9.2 million. The film grossed a total of $20.5 million on its first day, including Thursday previews but not the March screenings. It went on to debut to $53.5 million, finishing first at the box office. In its second weekend the film made $25.1 million, retaining the top spot, before being dethroned by newcomer The Curse of La Llorona in its third weekend. In its fourth weekend, it made $5.8 million and finished fifth at the box office, including behind fellow superhero films Avengers: Endgame and Captain Marvel.
In other territories, the film was released in 53 markets on Wednesday, April 3 and Thursday, April 4, and was projected to debut to $100-120 million, for a global opening of $145-170. In its first two days of international release the film made $15.7 million, finishing first in 48 of its 53 markets. It was then released in an additional 26 countries, including China, where it made $16.4 million on its first day. It went on to have an international debut of $102 million, and a global total of $158.6 million. It came in first in 60 of its 79 markets, with its highest-grossing being China ($43.4 million), Mexico ($10.6 million), Australia ($10.3 million), the UK ($15.3 million), Russia ($8.4 million) and Brazil ($8.7 million).
At the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 90% based on 401 reviews, with an average rating of 7.25/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "An effortlessly entertaining blend of humor and heart, Shazam! is a superhero movie that never forgets the genre's real power: joyous wish fulfillment." On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 71 out of 100, based on 53 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an overall positive score of 83% and a 61% "definite recommend".
Nick Allen of RogerEbert.com said that "while Shazam! is goofier (and darker) than it may look, you'll wish its superhero came with a little more spark," while The Hollywood Reporters Frank Scheck called the film "Big on steroids" and praised the tone and performances.Alonso Duralde of TheWrap wrote, "If the Wonder Woman and Aquaman movies represented DC Comics' first big-screen steps away from the austere color palette of the Zack Snyder movies, Shazam! takes us deeply into primary colors in a single bound... this new DC entry has a lovely lightness, both in the visuals and in its tone."
Writing for The A.V. Club, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky gave the film a "B-" and said: "...while the story of an extremely overpowered champion rising to challenge a one-dimensionally sinister baddie might seem like the epitome of simplicity, Shazam! is still a modern-day tentpole blockbuster, overburdened with backstories for both hero and villain and subtexts that it can't (or won't) fully articulate." That publication followed up with a further consideration of masculinity in the film and the superhero genre generally, focusing on the transition of Billy Batson from an adolescent boy to a man with power and responsibility. Benjamin Lee of The Guardian gave the film 3/5 stars, specifying, "The finale, while admirably self-contained and small-scale, grinds on for far too long, a boring escalation of anti-climaxes that cumulatively dull the intended emotional impact. It's a film in need of a tighter edit with a script in need of a sharper polish, an imperfect franchise-launcher that nonetheless represents significant progress for DC."
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipients||Result||Ref.|
|Golden Trailer Awards||May 29, 2019||Best Action||Shazam! "My Name", Warner Bros., Buddha Jones||Nominated|||
|Best Action TV Spot||Shazam! "Serious :60", Warner Bros., Buddha Jones||Nominated|
|MTV Movie & TV Awards||June 17, 2019||Best Comedic Performance||Zachary Levi||Nominated|||
|Saturn Awards||September 13, 2019||Best Comic-to-Film Motion Picture||Nominated|||
|Best Performance by a Younger Actor||Asher Angel||Nominated|
|Jack Dylan Grazer||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Leah Butler||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Awards||August 11, 2019||Choice Sci-Fi/Fantasy Movie||Nominated|||
|Choice Sci-Fi/Fantasy Movie Actor||Zachary Levi||Nominated|
|Choice Movie Villain||Mark Strong||Nominated|
|People's Choice Awards||November 10, 2019||Favorite Action Movie of 2019||Nominated|||
|National Film and Television Awards||December 3, 2019||Best Comedy||David F. Sandberg||Won|||
In April 2019, TheWrap reported that New Line Cinema is developing a sequel with Henry Gayden returning to write the film, along with David F. Sandberg directing and Peter Safran producing. In December 2019, New Line Cinema announced that the sequel will be released on April 1, 2022. However, on April 20, 2020, it was announced that the film would be delayed to November 4, 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic shifting around the release dates of several films. Its intended release date would be taken by The Matrix 4. At DC FanDome in August 2020, it was revealed the sequel will be titled Shazam! Fury of the Gods. In October 2020, the release date was delayed further to June 2, 2023.
In 1953, the case was finally settled out of court when Fawcett agreed to quit using the Captain Marvel character(s) and pay DC the sum of $400,000.