‘Aquaman’ Debuts with $72 Million
Variety.com: Jason Momoa’s “Aquaman” is the King of the Seven Seas — and now the box office. The DC adventure dominated in North America with a splashy $72 million debut, including previews.
Not including early showings, “Aquaman” generated $67 million from 4,125 locations during its first three days of release. That’s a hefty start during a month that, aside from “Star Wars” movies, tends to field smaller opening weekends that pick up steam as audiences have time off from work and school between Christmas and New Year’s. As expected, “Aquaman” easily fended off fellow newcomers “Mary Poppins Returns” and “Bumblebee.” Those two titles were in a close race for No. 2, though Sunday estimates show “Mary Poppins Returns” narrowly defeating “Bumblebee.”
Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns” was the de facto choice for moviegoers with young kids, pocketing $22.2 million over the three-day frame and $31 million during its first five days of release. That ranks as one of the smallest bows for a Disney title this year, but musicals don’t traditionally see sizable opening weekends and the live-action sequel looks to have a healthy life at multiplexes during the holiday stretch. Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda co-star in the follow-up, which brought in $20 million overseas for a worldwide start of $51 million. Rob Marshall, who previously teamed with Blunt and Disney on “Into the Woods,” handled directing duties on the film, which has a $130 million production budget.
“We weren’t aiming for the biggest opening weekend right out of the gate. Given how musicals play, it’s the perfect launching pad,” said Cathleen Taff, Disney’s head of domestic distribution. “We think it has something for everybody. It sets us up for a good holiday period.”
Paramount’s “Transformers” origin story “Bumblebee” landed in third place, generating $20.9 million from 3,550 screens. While that’s by far the lowest start for a “Transformers” title, the sci-fi prequel directed by Travis Knight has gotten some of the best reviews of the franchise and has time to build momentum in weeks to come.
“Bumblebee” is the first “Transformers” movie that Michael Bay didn’t direct, though he’s still on board as a producer. Hailee Steinfeld and John Cena star in the CGI spectacle based on the popular toys, which carries a $100 million price tag, making it much cheaper to produce than the Bay films.
James Wan directed “Aquaman,” which has already amassed $410 million overseas for a global total of $482.8 million. Over half of U.S. audiences were male, while 60% of crowds were under 35 years old. Imax screens accounted for $9.9 million of domestic ticket sales. Superhero fans were much more receptive to “Aquaman” than previous DC titles, branding this entry with an A- CinemaScore. “Aquaman” cost a hefty $200 million to produce and is Warner Bros.’ first DC stand-alone adventure since “Wonder Woman,” which opened in 2017 to a massive $103 million.
Warner Bros.’ president of domestic distribution Jeff Goldstein admits the studio’s DC Universe has stumbled in the past, but he’s confident “Aquaman” can steer the comic-book empire into clearer waters.
“We’ve had difficultly along the way, aside from ‘Wonder Woman,’ but when you look at this film on its own, we knew we had something special,” Goldstein said. “And this is just a preview, the main event really starts on Tuesday.”