‘Shazam!’ Writer Henry Gayden Will Return to Write Sequel (Exclusive)

Umberto Gonzalez
Though mid-week numbers were somewhat lower than expected, Warner Bros./New Line’s “Shazam!” easily stayed at the top of the box office charts with a $25 million second weekend, dropping a decent 53% from its $53.5 million opening.That gives the DC blockbuster a domestic total through two weekends of just under $95 million. Depending on the performance of the horror film “The Curse of La Llorona” next weekend, “Shazam!” has a chance to stay No. 1 for one more frame before “Avengers: Endgame” takes over the box office.Also Read: 'Shazam!' Writer Henry Gayden Will Return to Write Sequel (Exclusive)As for this weekend’s new releases, two of them are on their way to become big flops. One is Lionsgate/Millennium’s “Hellboy,” which has been panned with a 15% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes and a C on CinemaScore. With such poor word of mouth, the R-rated reboot of the Dark Horse Comics hero sits third on the charts with a $12 million opening from 3,303 screens, below projections for a $17-20 million opening and against a reported $50 million budget.Also struggling is Laika’s latest stop-motion animated film, “Missing Link,” which was distributed by United Artists on 3,413 screens. Unlike “Hellboy,” this film had characteristically strong reception for a Laika film with an 88% Rotten Tomatoes score and a B+ on CinemaScore.Also Read: Inside 'Hellboy' Reboot's Fiery Shoot: Fights Over David Harbour, Cinematography and a Tree (Exclusive)The decline of stop-motion films at the box office continues, with “Missing Link” coming in as Laika’s worst opening weekend yet at $5.8 million. That is less than half of the $12.6 million opening earned by 2016’s “Kubo and the Two Strings,” which was Laika’s previous low opening. Despite an Oscar nomination, “Kubo” barely made back its $60 million budget with $69 million grossed worldwide.One new release that did do well was Universal’s “Little,” which hit tracker expectations with a $15.5 million opening from 2,667 screens. Produced by Will Packer Productions on a $20 million budget, the film received mixed review with a 50% Rotten Tomatoes score.But the film was a hit with its primarily female, African American audience, who gave it a B+ on CinemaScore. Even after the release of “Avengers,” “Little” may have a chance to leg out well as counterprogramming to the superhero blockbuster.Also Read: 'Little' Film Review: Issa Rae and Marsai Martin Bring Hilarious Chemistry to Body-Switch TaleThe fourth new release was Aviron’s romance film “After,” an adaptation of the Anna Todd romance novel of the same name. While critics panned it with a 13% Rotten Tomatoes score, it performed slightly above tracker expectations with a $6.2 million opening against a $14 million budget, sitting at No. 8 on this weekend’s charts. The film earned a B on CinemaScore.Among holdovers, Paramount’s “Pet Sematary” and Disney’s “Dumbo” each earned $9-10 million this weekend to complete the top five, with “Pet Sematary” now holding a 10-day total of just under $41 million. “Dumbo” has now grossed $267 million worldwide with a $90 million domestic total.Read original story ‘Shazam!’ Still Flies High at Box Office With $25 Million 2nd Weekend At TheWrap

“Shazam!” screenplay writer Henry Gayden has been tapped to write the DC superhero movie’s sequel for DC and New Line, an individual with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap. The filmmaking team of David F. Sandberg and Peter Safran are also expected to return.

The writer has a busy slate as he is also adapting “Last Human,” a live-action science fiction film from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller based on the forthcoming novel of the same name by Lee Bacon, which Sony/TriStar have won in a bidding war. The film is described as a “reverse ET” and tells the story of an artificial intelligence society where three robots discover a human child.

“Shazam!” was the #1 film worldwide this weekend, over-performing expectations with a domestic cume of $56.8 million (inclusive of $3.3m in previews) and $102.3 internationally for a worldwide figure of $159.1 million on a relatively modest budget for a superhero film. New Line’s “Shazam!” is the third hit in a row for Warner Bros. & DC after “Wonder Woman” and “Aquaman.” The crowd-pleasing “Shazam!” earned an ‘A’ Cinemascore with audiences and a stellar 92% certified fresh Rotten Tomatoes score.

Also Read: Does DC Comics' 'Shazam' Have a Post-Credits Scene?

“Shazam!” follows the teen-aged Billy (Asher Angel) after he is chosen as the vessel of Shazam (Zachary Levi), an ancient wizard with extraordinary powers. But Shazam probably didn’t count on Billy reacting to becoming a super-powered adult the way most middle- school boys would: by buying beer, goofing around with his excited foster brother, and going to a real estate office to find a super-cool hero lair that would blow Superman’s Fortress of Solitude out of the water. But Billy isn’t the only one that has encountered Shazam. Many years earlier, another boy named Thaddeus Sivana came face-to-face with the wizard but was not chosen as his champion. Now, as a billionaire industrialist, Sivana (Mark Strong) wishes to acquire the magic Shazam has mastered for himself… and only Billy can stop him.

“Shazam!” is directed by David F. Sandberg and also stars Jack Dylan Grazer, Michelle Borth and Djimon Hounsou.

Gayden’s credits also include “Earth to Echo.”

Gayden is repped by UTA and Kaplan Perrone.

Read original story ‘Shazam!’ Writer Henry Gayden Will Return to Write Sequel (Exclusive) At TheWrap