‘Aquaman’ Is King With $67m As Christmas Delivers A Mixed Bag Of Presents: Box Office Report

Written by Dapo Olowu

Father Christmas was in a giving mood in the penultimate Box Office weekend of the year, gifting our seven new releases a combined gross of $125.7m between Friday and Sunday.

Half went to ‘Aquaman’, the film which sees Warner Bros swim further into the shores of the DCEU. Its first 3 days earned them $67.4m – by far the lowest in the franchise so far, but simultaneously the 9th biggest December opening of all time.

It’s a start both unspectacular but impressive; while ‘Aquaman’ may have been expected to open bigger without the looming figure of a ‘Star Wars’ movie in December (it’s the first time since 2014 that we haven’t had one at Christmas), the DCEU suffered a near-fatal blow last year with critical and commercial flop ‘Justice League’. Audiences, it seems, were being cautious.

Those who took the risk liked what they saw from the James Wan blockbuster. It’s A- on Cinemascore is only bettered by ‘Wonder Woman’ in the DCEU, whose 4x opening weekend multiplier (achievable over the winter break) would land ‘Aquaman’ with a commanding $270m domestic total. Coupled with an ever-impressive overseas total – which is currently on $410.7m after a $91.3m weekend – and its okay start this weekend will be long forgotten in the next few weeks.

It was a closer-than-expected affair between Disney’s ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ ($23.5m) and Paramount’s ‘Bumblebee’ ($21.6m), as both remained rooted in ‘Aquaman’s shadow. Both studios will be a little disappointed by the performances thus far, as heavy competition from ‘Aquaman’, and a slew of family-friendly releases (‘The Nutcracker’, for one) caused either one or the other to deliver under forecasts.

All isn’t lost, however. Nothing stops both films from really breaking out in the upcoming weeks and months and having special Box Office performances to wipe away any doubts, especially as both benefit from an A- on Cinemascore – a mark of strong praise.

Last Christmas saw ‘Jumanji’ open to just $36.2m, only to end on a whopping $404.5m, and ‘The Greatest Showman’ start at a poor $8.8m on its way to earning $174.3m. Even ‘Pitch Perfect 3’ opened to $19.9m, only to finish on $104.9m, meaning the festive period and beyond provides perfect fodder for highly-rated movies with low-ish openings.  Only ‘Vice’ and ‘Holmes and Watson’ provide any real competition until ‘Glass’ on January 18th, so both films can look to stretch their legs in the coming weeks.

Internationally, ‘Bumblebee’ will be pleased to have earned $31.1m from 38 markets (not including China) for a $52.7m opening, while ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ made $20.3m from 17 countries, including $9.4m from the U.K.

The less said about both ‘Second Act’ and ‘Welcome to Marwen’ the better. The former, fronted by Jennifer Lopez and produced by STX, floundered at the Box Office, earning $6.5m off of a $16m budget. Perhaps a case of a poor release date, the film will now struggle to claw back its budget in coming weeks. Still, it’s nothing compared to ‘Welcome to Marwen’, who somehow did worse than our pessimistic expectations of $4.3m with just $2.4m for 9th place.

Finally, it was a close-call between ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ and ‘The Favourite’ for 10th spot. Both award-hopeful royalty-focused period-dramas were practically tied coming into Sunday night, with ‘Mary’ just edging the fight with $2.3m, versus ‘The Favourite’s $2.1m.

The Christmas competition didn’t disappoint, and the big day itself sees ‘Vice’ and ‘Holmes and Watson’ enter wide to add more fun to the mix. How will the two fair against the competition? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

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 *includes gross from Amazon previews

**includes gross from Wednesday onwards

 

 

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REVIEW: Aquaman (2018)

Directed by: James Wan
Starring: Jason Mamoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Dolph Lundgren

Written by Rhys Bowen Jones

The DCEU badly needs a win. To say the DCEU has had peaks and troughs is something of an understatement. Despite, for my part, ‘Man of Steel’ being far stronger than the wider consensus says, and ‘Wonder Woman’ being as universally acclaimed as it is, the DCEU is badly trying to course correct after the mixed reception received on ‘Batman v Superman,’ and the genuinely shambolic efforts of ‘Justice League’ and ‘Suicide Squad.’ It needs a film to reunite DC fans everywhere that convinces them the DCEU could be a success. I think ‘Aquaman’ could well be that film.

Game of Thrones’ Jason Momoa stars as Arthur “Aquaman” Curry, a human-Atlantean hybrid with super strength and a swimming ability not too far behind that of Michael Phelps. Living his life as a metahuman living amongst us, Arthur forgoes the secret identity schtick, openly embraces being Aquaman, and spends his time saving people from various nautical disasters. When Orm (Patrick Wilson), Arthur’s half-brother, stakes claim to the throne and threatens an Atlantean takeover of the world, Arthur must return to his true home and claim the throne that is rightfully his.

I’m going to cut to the chase. ‘Aquaman’ is the most fun I’ve had at the cinema in months. I’ve seen some terrific films in the last year, even some genuinely all-time great superhero films like ‘Infinity War’ and ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,’ but nothing compared to ‘Aquaman.’ As the film escalates towards its inevitable, CGI-tastic battle scene, I found myself actively cheering the action on screen. It forced various exclamations that basically said, in umpteen different ways, “this is so cool.” Because that’s what James Wan, the stellar filmmaker behind films like ‘Saw’, ‘The Conjuring,’ and ‘Furious 7,’ managed to do. He made Aquaman cool. He made the guy who has been the joke of DC for years and known as “the one who can speak to fish” cool.

What really works for ‘Aquaman’ is its cast. It boasts a terrific ensemble, and no matter how ridiculous it all is if you really look at it, everyone is all in on their characters, embracing the ridiculousness of it all, and just having a great time with it. There’s a chemistry amongst every major player, from Arthur and Orm, to Arthur and Mera (Amber Heard), to Arthur and Vulko (Willem Dafoe), to Mera and Vulko, and to Orm and Nereus (Dolph Lundgren), that makes the film work. All the different relationships between the characters are, admittedly pretty blatantly, clear and their motivations are presented well so that everyone knows where they stand as the tensions mount into the third act. The ‘will-they-won’t-they’ dynamics, the rivalries, the father-and-son relationships, it’s all well thought-out and executed extremely well, thanks largely to the great cast.

Where the film does have flaws – and believe me, it has its flaws – is largely down to its dialogue. Despite the well-fleshed out relationships I mentioned above, the conversations are about as on-the-nose as it comes. Characters explicitly describe their emotions and plans in every line of dialogue, shoving in corny, superhero focused one-liners to raise an obvious moral question for Arthur to ponder for 20 minutes. It’s blunt, but it’s serviceable; there’s no room for subtext. But then again, this is fucking Aquaman. At one point, sharks are used as surfboards. Subtext left the writer’s room 27-minutes into Day One. And that’s okay.

The average cinema-goer goes to a superhero film for the action. You can claim all you want that people live for the interpersonal drama you find in the MCU, but a superhero film lives and dies by its action sequences. ‘Aquaman’ raises the bar for what a superhero film’s action scenes should look like. They’re the cleanest, best choreographed, and best shot action scenes since probably ‘Mad Max: Fury Road.’ In the first 10 minutes, there’s a very cool fight scene involving Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) in a living room that’s a long-take, one smooth shot in which all 3 enemies are vanquished in expert fashion as the camera swirls around the room. At that moment I knew we were in good hands, but that was just a taster.

There are a lot of nice little action sequences throughout the film, all of which are well done, but there are two stand-outs: Sicily and The Battle of the Trench. Sicily, for starters, includes a glorious long-take following a Atlantean battering ram crashing through 15 apartment walls as it’s the fastest way to Mera who is running along the rooftops, while simultaneously Arthur is being chased by Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), the film’s sadly underused but encouraging secondary villain, with various moments for combat thrown in, an exploding church bell, and Arthur using a literal ball and chain as a weapon. At one point, the camera shows Arthur’s fight and zooms across the rooftops to catch up with Mera, mere minutes before she creatively uses red motherfucking wine as a weapon. Just thinking about this scene again brings a smile to my face. It’s chaos in its most glorious form.

The climactic Battle of the Trench is, thankfully, a worthy capper on a terrifically fun time. I can’t go into too much detail for fear of spoilers, but this scene is the main cause of my exclamations of disbelief I mentioned earlier. Some of the moments on screen are wildly creative, they’re moments that will stick with you for months, because it’s a battle on the same scale as that of Helm’s Deep in ‘Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’ only this time it involves sharks with freakin’ laser beams attached to their heads, giant crocodiles, giant crabs and lobsters, and there’s even the closest thing to an actual kaiju. It’s not a case of Wan throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks here; everything sticks. The final 30 minutes of ‘Aquaman’ is the best climax to a 2018 film this side of ‘Hereditary.’

Aquaman’ is fantastic. I can forgive the flaws of its screenplay when the action is this satisfying and this impressive. It has charismatic performances, a fantastic soundtrack (‘Aquaman’’s theme is the best superhero theme since ‘Wonder Woman’, for everything the DCEU is doing wrong, it’s nailing the music), and stellar direction and cinematography. It’s one of the most bombastic, energetic, insane films of the year, and it deserves your attention.

Give me more ‘Aquaman.’ I want so much more ‘Aquaman.’

 

RHYS’ VERDICT:

5

A Hero Is Born In The Final ‘Aquaman’ Trailer

“Following the events of Justice League, Arthur Curry, the reluctant ruler of the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, is caught in a battle between surface dwellers that threaten his oceans and his own people, who are ready to lash out and invade the surface.”

Directed by: James Wan

Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Willem Dafoe, Dolph Lundgren, Randall Park

Release Date: December 13th, 2018

Brand New 5 Minute ‘Aquaman’ Extended Look Released

“Following the events of Justice League, Arthur Curry, the reluctant ruler of the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, is caught in a battle between surface dwellers that threaten his oceans and his own people, who are ready to lash out and invade the surface.”

Directed by: James Wan

Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Willem Dafoe, Dolph Lundgren, Randall Park

Release Date: December 13th, 2018

Batman Day 2018: JUMPCUT’s Top 5 Cinematic Batmen

Today is Batman Day 2018, an annual event where fans come together to celebrate all things Batman. DC is marking the occasion this year by launching it’s highly anticipated streaming service, which will feature shows such is Titans, Doom Patrol, The Swamp Thing, and even Harley Quinn be getting her own show.

Here at JUMPCUT we’re marking Batman Day by ranking our top five favourite cinematic Batmen. As always with our rankings, the team have voted for their personal favourites, and we use a point based system to determine the final rankings – so the rankings below don’t necessarily reflect the teams personal rankings.

 

#5 LEGO Batman (Will Arnett)

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Will Arnett’s LEGO Batman made his first appearing in the 2014 hit The LEGO Movie and he proved such a hit with viewers that Warner Bros. got big ol’ dollar signs in their eyes and made plans for a solo film. Chris McKay, who directed The LEGO Movie, signed on to direct LEGO Batman’s solo outing and he said the comedy in the film was heavily influenced by films like Airplane! and The Naked Gun – and boy does it show. This animated caper pulled no punches with its barrage of easter eggs, cameos, and its general bat-shit craziness. Arnett is returning to voice this moody vigilante in the upcoming The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, which hits cinemas next year.

 

#4 Adam West

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The late, great Adam West was cast as Batman after a producer saw him in an advert for Nestlé. West played Bruce Wayne/Batman in the Batman TV series that ran from 1966 – 1968 and had 3 seasons and one feature film. Even after the shows cancellation, West returned to the role of Batman in voice-over roles for both TV and animated films – most recently Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs Two-Face, which are based around the campy 60’s version of Batman and his enemies/allies.

 

#3 Michael Keaton

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Michael Keaton donned the Dark Knight’s cape in Batman (’89) and again in Batman Returns (’92), but there were a lot of names in the ring before he secured the role. Actors such as Pierce Brosnan, Tom Selleck, Billy Murray, and Willem Dafoe were all considered for the role before Keaton. His casting caused some controversy amongst comic books fans and Warner Bros received over 50,000 letters of complaint (luckily for them there was no social media platforms back then!) . Complaints aside, Batman (’89) became the fastest film to earn $100m, a feat it managed it just 11 days.  Talks of Keaton returning the the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman have been circling social media later as fans say they would like to see him as an older version of the character in a live-adaptation Batman Beyond.

 

#2 Ben Affleck

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Whilst his future as the caped crusader may be in doubt, Ben Affleck comes graciously in second place amongst our rankings of Batmen. For his first outing in the cape, Affleck went toe-to-toe with Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Affleck was Zack Snyder’s first choice for the role, but it quickly became apparent that, much like Keaton, Affleck’s casting wasn’t popular amongst comic book ‘fans’. Practically minutes after news broke that Affleck would be the latest live-action Batman, people took to social media with a number of petitions calling for Warner Bros. to remove him from the role and cast someone else. Batman v Superman received what Connor4Real would call ‘mixed reviews‘, but Affleck was largely praised for his performance despite the initial backlash. The less said about Justice League the better, but we here at JUMPCUT hope to see Affleck don the batcowl at least one more time in the near future. The whole team are rooting for Ben and wish him all the best as he recently checked back into rehab for his alcohol addiction. You’ve got this, Ben!

 

#1 Christian Bale

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Our number one likely comes as no surprise to you at this point. Bale suited up for Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) in what is surely one of the highest praised comic book movie trilogies to date. Bale originally had to bulk up for the role in Batman Begins as he had just finished filming The Machinist when he was cast. He gained over 100lb in muscle in just a few months, then he and Nolan agreed he was too big and so he had to lose some of that newly gained muscle to get the look of his Batman just right. Bale’s portrayal of Batman is one of the most popular comic book performances to date and the trilogy as a whole has raked in just under $2.5b at the worldwide box office.

And that’s our cinematic Batmen ranked! We’d love to hear your rankings – feel free to tell us over on Twitter, or in the comments below!

SDCC: Dive Into Atlantis In The First Trailer For James Wan’s ‘Aquaman’

Following the events of Justice League, Arthur Curry, the reluctant ruler of the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, is caught in a battle between surface dwellers that threaten his oceans and his own people, who are ready to lash out and invade the surface.

Directed by: James Wan

Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Willem Dafoe, Dolph Lundgren, Randall Park

Release Date: December 13th, 2018

SDCC: SURPRISE! First Teaser Trailer For ‘Shazam’ Released Online

 

“We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s (Angel) case, by shouting out one word—SHAZAM!—this streetwise 14-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult Super Hero Shazam (Levi), courtesy of an ancient wizard. Still a kid at heart—inside a ripped, godlike body—Shazam revels in this adult version of himself by doing what any teen would do with superpowers: have fun with them! Can he fly? Does he have X-ray vision? Can he shoot lightning out of his hands? Can he skip his social studies test?

Shazam sets out to test the limits of his abilities with the joyful recklessness of a child. But he’ll need to master these powers quickly in order to fight the deadly forces of evil controlled by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Strong). “Shazam!” also stars Jack Dylan Grazer (“IT”) as Billy’s best friend and ultimate superhero enthusiast, Freddy, part of the foster family that includes Mary, played by Grace Fulton (“Annabelle: Creation”); Darla, played by Faithe Herman (TV’s “This is Us”); Eugene, played by Ian Chen (TV’s “Fresh Off the Boat”); and Pedro, played by Jovan Armand (TV’s “Hawaii Five-O”). Cooper Andrews (TV’s “The Walking Dead”) and Marta Milans (TV’s “Killer Women”) play foster parents Victor and Rosa Vasquez, with Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou (“Blood Diamond”) as the Wizard.”

Directed by: David F. Sandberg

Cast: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Jack Dylan Grazer, Ross Butler, Asher Angel

Release Date: April 5th, 2019

Competition: Win A ‘4 Jokers’ Print From Our New Partner, ShanesArtworks!

We have some exciting news to share tonight with you all, and that is that we have now officially partnered up with incredibly talented Shane of ShanesArtworks – and partnership that will open up new and exciting opportunities for both JUMPCUT and Shane!

To kick this partnership off in style, Shane has kindly offered up a print to run a competition! You can enter on both Facebook and Twitter following the conditions in the below posts.

Keep your eyes peeled on our social media for more awesome work from Shane!

Our competition closes Friday 15th June and is open to UK residents only. 

 

John Francis Daley Confirms Involvement On ‘Flashpoint’ Film

Back in January, Variety reported that ‘Vacation’ and upcoming ‘Game Night’ directing duo John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein were in talks to direct the upcoming ‘Flashpoint’ film for Warner Bros, following the exit of Rick Famuyiwa back in 2016.

John Francis Daley has tweeted this evening to confirm he is officially onboard!

The speedster’s solo outing actually happening has been in much doubt since Famuyiwa’s exit, with lots of rumours regarding directors being circled for the project but nothing official until now. Last year hope was reignited for this solo film as it was announced at SDCC that it would be called ‘Flashpoint’ – based on the hit comic storyline. Since then, there have been more rumours of the villains we could see in Barry go up against, and whether his new ‘Justice League’ friends will appear, as they do in the comic story – at this point they are still all rumours, but now that we have our directors, the rest will follow!

When I first read Variety’s report on the duo taking on the film of my all-time favourite comic book hero, I was very sceptical. But after watching ‘Game Night‘ last week, I have faith that the pair will do the Scarlet Speedster justice and could actually deliver the humour and stylish flair Barry Allen needs in his film. The duo also did a cracking job penning the script for ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’, which had the correct dose of humour for Tom Holland’s Peter Parker. In my eyes, Ezra is a fantastic Barry Allen and I can’t wait to see more of him – hopefully with Kiersey Clemons’ Iris West at his side for some of the film!