‘Aquaman’ Swims Deep at Crowded Box Office

In the weekend before Christmas, the Warner superhero flick Aquaman had no trouble swimming to the top of the North American box office. The heavily-marketed superhero flick swam right past the competition, which included Paramount’s Bumblebee, Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns,  Second Act and Welcome To Marwen.

While it didn’t quite have the opening of Wonder Woman, Batman V. Superman or even last year’s box office dud Justice League, the $67 million collected from 4125 screens -$72 million with paid previews factored in- for the latest DC Comics big screen adventure Aquaman was still mighty impressive. That opening was more than enough to land the James Wan-directed feature among the ten best December openings of all time.

Reviews were mixed for the origin story starring Jason Moma, Amber Heard and Nicole Kidman. The $200 million production scored a 64% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 55/100 on Metacritic. Ticket buyers polled by CinemaScore didn’t seem to be as conflicted. They gave the film a rock solid “A+” grade.

The promising North America opening for Aquaman joins a powerhouse international run that added another $91.3 million to its coffers this weekend, bringing its overall international total to $410 million. China leads the way with an incredible $232 million, followed by Brazil with $17 million, Mexico with $16 million and Russia with $13 million so far.

Opening in second place was Disney’s big holiday offering, Mary Poppins Returns. The belated sequel to the 1965 classic Mary Poppins opened on 4,090 screens to an estimated $22.2 million for the weekend and $31 million overall since this past Wednesday. The family musical received decent reviews from critics -77% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 66/100 on Metacritic- and an “A-“ from ticket buyers on CinemaScore. Chicago’s Rob Marshall directed the new film, which stars Emily Blunt as Poppins, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Emily Mortimer and Ben Wishlaw. Mary also conjured up $20.3 million from overseas markets this weekend as well.

Landing in third place was Paramount’s Bumblebee with an estimated $21 million from 3,550 venues. The first Transfomers spinoff film – and the first not to be directed by Michael Bay- was warmly received by critics and the public. Reviewers bestowed the Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings) feature with a 94% approval on Rotten Tomatoes, a 66/100 on Metacritic and an “A-“ from ticket buyers on CinemaScore. The $135 million production may have had the lowest opening for a film in the 11-year old Transformers franchise, but it poised to have the longest box office legs if word-of-mouth pans out.

With three big films arriving on the scene, Sony’s Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse took a bit of a hit while falling from first to fourth place. The acclaimed animated feature dipped 53% in its second weekend on 3,813 theaters to earn an estimated $16.7 million. After ten days, Spider-Verse has cleared a solid $65 million so far. The holidays will provide plenty of cash for the cartoon webslinger as he heads to a domestic final haul around $150 million, possibly more. Spider-Verse’s international haul is $64.8 million so far.

Rounding out the top five was Warner’s The Mule with $10 million from 2,656 screens. Down only 43% from its debut -a sign that the Clint Eastwood flick is the recipient of positive word-of-mouth-, The Mule has smuggled $35.6 million so far and could finish its year end run with a respectable $70 million.

  1. The Grinch (2018) (Universal) $8.1 million (-30%); $253 million
  2. Second Act (STX) $6.5 million

Jennifer Lopez returned to the big screen this weekend with this critically-panned, largely ignored comedy. Don’t expect a Third Act anytime soon.

  1. Ralph Breaks the Internet (Disney) $4.6 million (-50%); $162 million
  2. Welcome to Marwen (Universal) $2.3 million

The latest from Robert Zemeckis landed with a colossal thud thanks to toxic reviews from the press and a cold shoulder from the public. The disastrous start for the film only added to Universal’s year-end woes, which include the colossal turkey Mortal Engines (remember that one?)

  1. Mary, Queen of Scots (Focus) $2.2 million; $3.5 million


Vice and Holmes & Watson both arrive in wide release on Christmas Day.

Have a safe and Happy Holiday, everyone!

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