Box Office: ‘Aquaman’ Makes A Huge Splash With $482M Worldwide

1. Aquaman (review) – $67.4M/$72.1M
Warner Bros. reeled in a big one with Aquaman‘s huge $72M opening weekend. That’s great, and everything the studio could’ve hoped for, especially for a character so key to the failed Justice League. Those numbers include $4M earned from last week’s highly-successful Amazon Prime exclusive screenings. But what’s truly phenomenal is the $482M it’s already grossed worldwide. The reviews have been strong across the board, with praise heaped on director James Wan and Jason Momoa for making something fun out of Aquaman, a character that has always been considered a punchline. In the same way Wonder Woman came along and was a lifeline to the DCEU, Aquaman is looking to be something similar, and it’s evidence that maybe they don’t need Batman and Superman at all?
2. Mary Poppins Returns (review)- $22.2M/$31M
With Aquaman sucking so much air out of the box office there was barely room for Mary Poppins to make make her grand return. Mary Poppins Returns opened with a modest $31M, after an $8M debut on Wednesday. Those numbers are, well, they’re alright, but Disney is probably counting on this to have a lot of staying power through the holiday and into the New Year. There aren’t a ton of big movies left, really only M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass over the next month, so a leggy run is possible. The film stars Emily Blunt as the titular nanny, taking over the role made iconic by Julie Andrews, and I think she does a really tremendous job. She really goes for it in making the character her own and this movie a delight. Hopefully more people check it out.
3. Bumblebee (review) – $21M
Also taking the business end of Aquaman‘s trident is Paramount’s Transformers prequel, Bumblebee, which despite excellent reviews opened with a mere $21M. The first live-action movie of the franchise to not have Michael Bay behind the camera also had the weakest opening weekend. However, there is some good news. The buzz has been so good there’s a reason to expect a long run for this one, and director Travis Knight (of Laika fame) made the most out of his $130M budget, a number that is roughly half of what Bay worked with on a regular basis. With a combined $52M worldwide this isn’t such a dire start, and I suspect it will do very well in China and Japan. Bumblebee basically throws out much of the turds Bay left behind with The Last Knight, in order to tell a family-friendly story about a girl (Hailee Steinfeld) who discovers the lost and amnesiac Autobot. It’s The Iron Giant, Transformers-style, and I think once parents catch on that this isn’t anything like the gratuitous nonsense Bay trafficked in, Bumblebee will see steady holds for a few weeks.
4. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse– $16.7M/$64.8M
5. The Mule– $9.9M/$35.6M
6. Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch– $8.1M/$253.2M
7. Second Act (review)- $6.5M
Your December dose of counter-programming goes to Second Act, the Jennifer Lopez workplace comedy in which she plays a woman who fakes her way into a lucrative white collar gig. While she doesn’t command the big numbers she used to, a $6.5M start for this is pretty good given the circumstances.
8. Ralph Breaks the Internet– $4.5M/$162M
9. Welcome to Marwen (review)- $2.9M
Unceremoniously dumped into 1911 theaters was Robert Zemeckis’ terrible Welcome to Marwen. Steve Carell plays Mark Hogancamp, who deals with his PTSD by building an elaborate fantasy world populated by dolls representing him, his loved one, and his attackers. It’s a great story chronicled in the documentary Marwencol, but Zemeckis’ narrative take never stood a chance. Saddled with reviews calling it among the worst movies of the year, plus a hard-to-sell premise, and the $2.9M it earned is probably more than it should’ve.
10. Mary Queen of Scots (review)- $2.2M/$3.5M
Expanding into 795 theaters and moving into the top 10 was the well-reviewed period drama, Mary Queen of Scots with $2.2M. Led by Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, it’s been the subject of some Oscars talk which could provide a healthy boost, but I’m thinking the greatest may be the presence of The Favourite. That royal dramedy, which also features tremendous leading ladies in Oliva Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz, trails just behind it ($2M this week) and I think these two films are stealing from the same audience.