‘Aquaman 2’ Struggles Ashore With $40 Million Christmas Box Office Opening

Warner Bros./DC’s “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” is leading the box office with a $40 million 4-day box office opening. But with middling audience reception, the final installment of the DC Extended Universe isn’t showing as much promise as other films farther down the charts.

“Aquaman 2” is already behind its $1 billion-plus 2018 predecessor, which earned a 3-day opening of $67.8 million. On top of that, while the first “Aquaman” earned an A- on CinemaScore, the sequel earned a B, the same grade as Warner Bros.’ summer DC flop “The Flash.” Like that film “Aquaman” carries a $200 million-plus budget, the highest of any new release this holiday season.

It’s an ignominious end to the once successful DCEU, as Warner Bros. released three other films in the series this year — “Shazam: Fury of the Gods,” “The Flash” and “Blue Beetle” — that were ignored by all but the most hardcore of superhero movie lovers and tanked at the box office. A likely factor may have been audiences’ awareness that the entire DC cinematic canon was being rebooted under new creative head James Gunn, whom Warner Bros. is trusting to revive one of their most lucrative IP with “Superman: Legacy” in summer 2025.

Warner Bros. is getting better news from its family musical “Wonka,” which is estimated to earn $26 million this extended weekend. Through Christmas Day, the prequel to “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” is estimated to have a domestic cume of $83.5 million after showing solid midweek numbers and strong audience reception.

In third is Illumination/Universal’s “Migration,” which is earning a 4-day opening weekend of $17 million from 3,761 theaters. It’s a soft start for Illumination’s first original film since “Sing” in 2016, but family audiences are embracing it with an A on CinemaScore and an 85% Rotten Tomatoes score.

Universal is banking on that strong audience reception allowing “Migration” to leg out over the coming weeks similar to DreamWorks’ “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” or Pixar’s “Elemental” earlier this year. “Elemental” grossed $154 million at the domestic box office, becoming the highest grossing original animated film this year.

More to come…

Sofia Coppola

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