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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

'Aquaman' headed for Christmas box office blitz

Latest tracking figures suggest movie could be a surprisingly big banker for DC stable

Jason Momoa in Aquaman. Jasin Boland / Warner Bros. Pictures
Jason Momoa in Aquaman. Jasin Boland / Warner Bros. Pictures

It’s been over a month since the last big(ish) budget superhero flick hit our screens, in the shape of October’s Venom, and although it can often feel like Marvel or DC are pushing out a new film on a weekly basis, the latest US tracking figures for festive releases suggest we’ve not reached superhero fatigue just yet.

The first official tracking is out for December 21 releases and Jason Momoa’s Aquaman is expected to open with $65 million. That’s a lot lower than the previous DC Films flicks. However, it’s Christmas, which means smaller openings but longer returns as movie goers stagger their viewing over the holidays, rather than rushing out over the weekend.

Man of Steel kicked off the DC Films franchise in June of 2013 with a $128 million debut weekend, and ended up with $291m domestically and $668m worldwide on a $225m budget. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice scored a huge $166m debut weekend in March of 2016, but it suffered from poor reviews and divisive word-of-mouth and stalled on $330m domestic and $873m worldwide.

Suicide Squad received even worse reviews, but still managed a $133m debut weekend and thus a $325m domestic and $745m worldwide haul. Wonder Woman finally earned DC some good reviews and earned $413m domestic from a $103m debut weekend in June of 2017, and $822m.

Justice League opened with just $93 million last November and crawled to $229m domestic, and $659m worldwide on a circa $300m budget. That brings us to Aquaman, and, yes, James Wan’s aquatic adventure is not tracking anywhere near even the $93m launch of Justice League.

But the movie cost closer to $175 million and is absolutely banking on a long holiday run. Save for the last three Star Wars movies, no December release has ever opened higher than The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ($84m in 2012).

The holiday season essentially gives movies a two week opening weekend. With the only other notable release of the weekend being Etan (not Ethan) Cohen’s unfancied Holmes and Watson, Aquaman could prove a surprise high point on DC’s box office line graph.

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