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‘Black Adam’ wins a star-powered box office weekend

<i>Warner Bros. Pictures</i><br/>
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

By Frank Pallotta, CNN Business

Who says movie stars no longer matter in Hollywood?

Theaters and box offices got a much-needed boost this weekend thanks to superhero flick “Black Adam” and romantic comedy “Ticket to Paradise” — two films led by big stars.

Let’s start with the winner of the weekend: “Black Adam.”

The Warner Bros. film, which stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a powerful superhero, took the No. 1 spot at the domestic box office with an estimated $67 million. That is the largest domestic opening ever for Johnson in a leading role.

It’s also a much needed win for theaters, which have been in a dry spell lately due to a lack of blockbusters. The debut of “Black Adam” is the largest opening at the box office since July’s “Thor: Love & Thunder.” (Warner Bros., like CNN, is owned by Warner Bros. Discovery.)

The film, which comes with a $195 million budget, was led by Johnson who is one of the more recognizable stars in Hollywood at a time when content and characters are more bankable than big names. He has also starred in lucrative franchises such as Fast & Furious and Jumanji.

Coming in at No. 2 is Universal Pictures’ “Ticket to Paradise.” The film, which was made for $60 million and stars George Clooney and Julia Roberts as exes attending their daughter’s tropical wedding, brought in an estimated $16.3 million at the domestic box office.

Now $16.3 million may not seem like the biggest total in the world, but it’s notable since romantic comedies have become a mostly dead genre at the box office. In fact, Universal suffered a set back just a few weeks ago when “Bros.,” another romantic comedy, flopped at the box office.

Billy Eichner, the star of “Bros.,” said following the film’s disappointing debut that “straight people, especially in certain parts of the country, just didn’t show up for Bros.,” which was the first gay rom-com to be produced and distributed by a major studio with a wide theatrical release.

That may have been a factor, but it also likely hurt that the film lacked any major stars, while “Ticket to Paradise” was led by two of the biggest names in Hollywood over the last 30 years.

The film has made $96.6 million globally so far, according to Universal.

Ultimately, movie stars may not mean as much as they used to in Hollywood, but they can still help sell tickets, according to Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.

“Star power is alive and well with the top two films clearly benefiting from the brand recognition and big screen appeal of the likes of Johnson, Roberts and Clooney,” Dergarabedian told CNN Business. “Though many have discounted the importance of having big stars top-lining a movie, this weekend shows that having actors with true movie star credentials can lead to box office success.”

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