Weekend Box Office: ‘Aquaman’ Splashes Down with $67.4 Million

     December 23, 2018


Aquaman is king of the box office, but it’s no “James Cameron’s Aquaman.” The DC film debuted to a robust $67.4 million this weekend, falling short of the fictional record-breaking opening weekend of “James Cameron’s Aquaman” which was a plot point on HBO’s Entourage and the go-to Aquaman joke for years. This is no laughing matter for Warner Bros., however, as Aquaman was a big question mark following the disastrous performance of Justice League last year. Questions loomed regarding whether Justice League had soured audiences on the DCEU and Jason Momoa’s Aquaman for good, or if director James Wan’s standalone film could truly stand alone.

As it turns out, it’s the latter. The film received an A- CinemaScore from audiences and fairly positive reviews, and if you include paid sneak peeks, the film’s domestic total now stands at a solid $72.1 million. While that’s short of the opening weekends of the previous DC movies Wonder Woman ($103 million), Suicide Squad ($133 million), Man of Steel ($116 million), and Batman v Superman ($166 million), it’s to be expected given the holiday framing for Aquaman.


Image via Warner Bros.

Indeed, the pre-Christmas box office is usually a bit softer than summer opening weekends, as films get a jump start and then pull in big money over the Christmas through New Year’s holiday break. It’s unclear just how high Aquaman will go, but the film has already brought in $482.8 million worldwide. So yes, this is a win for Warner Bros.

Aquaman’s opening was slightly lower than tracking suggested, but that was a common refrain with new releases this weekend as Mary Poppins Returns and Bumblebee also opened below tracking. The former pulled in $22.2 million over the weekend with a five-day total of $31 million, and no doubt Disney is hoping Mary Poppins Returns follows a similar word-of-mouth path that pushed The Greatest Showman to $434 million worldwide after a less-than-stellar December opening weekend. All eyes will be on next week, when Disney expects families will turn to Mary Poppins Returns as their Christmas outing.

Mary Poppins Returns also scored an A- CinemaScore, as did Bumblebee, which came in close behind the Disney sequel with $21 million for the weekend. Bumblebee was actually the best-reviewed new release of the weekend and could enjoy strong word-of-mouth in the weeks to come as well. Paramount faced an uphill battle there convincing people Bumblebee was worth a shot following the complete and utter audience rejection of Transformers: The Last Knight, which opened with just $44 million in the heart of summer 2017.


Image via Universal Pictures

One new release that didn’t pop is Robert ZemeckisWelcome to Marwen, which was D.O.A. with a paltry $2.4 million for the weekend. Universal Pictures pretty much hid the film from critics, setting a late embargo just before the movie hit theaters. Reviews weren’t too kind to the odd drama, and it appears audiences just simply had no interest. And a B- CinemaScore suggests even those that did show up weren’t too happy with what they saw.

In other bad box office news, Mortal Engines tumbled 77% in its second weekend to a mere $1.7 million, bringing its worldwide total to $54.3 million. That’s a disastrous performance for the Universal Pictures film, though you can’t say they didn’t try—producer and co-writer Peter Jackson’s name was plastered all over the marketing.

As for holdovers, the excellent Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse dropped 54% and pulled in $16.5 million, but I expect that film—bolstered by impeccable reviews—will do well next week. And Universal’s The Grinch, despite opening in November, is still chugging along, pulling in $8.2 million this weekend for a worldwide total of $422.5 million.

Check out the full top 10 below and stay tuned next week as families flock to theaters.

Rank Title Weekend Total
1. Aquaman $67,400,000 $72,100,000
2. Mary Poppins Returns $22,235,000 $31,049,671
3. Bumblebee $21,000,000 $21,000,000
4. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse $16,700,000 $64,800,063
5. The Mule $9,950,000 $35,653,465
6. The Grinch $8,180,000 $253,218,975
7. Second Act $6,501,000 $6,501,000
8. Ralph Breaks the Internet $4,599,000 $162,093,930
9. Welcome to Marwen $2,538,000 $2,538,000
10. Mary Queen of Scots $2,240,000 $3,544,755

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