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.
*includes gross from Amazon previews
**includes gross from Wednesday onwards