‘Aquaman’ outswims ‘Poppins,’ logs $67.4M debut

Jake Coyle Ap Film Writer
Wednesday, December 26, 2018

NEW YORK — In a flood of new releases, "Aquaman" easily swam past "Mary Poppins Returns" and "Bumblebee" to lead the busy pre-Christmas weekend with an estimated $67.4 million over the weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Without a "Star Wars" film on the December schedule for the first time in four years, a crowded slate of films sought to capitalize on the lucrative holiday period in theaters.

The DC Comics superhero film "Aquaman," which cost Warner Bros. $200 million to make, arrived already a juggernaut overseas, where it has grossed more than $400 million in three weeks of release. Including advance previews, the Jason Momoaled "Aquaman" reeled in $72.1 million in U.S. and Canada theaters, bringing its global total to $482.8 million.

"Aquaman," directed by James Wan, has proven to be a stabilizing "Justice League" spinoff for Warner Bros. following bumpier DC releases outside of "Wonder Woman." The film garnered an A-minus Cinemascore from audiences.

For the studios, the weekend was as much about setting themselves up for Christmas to New Year's, when theaters are routinely packed through the week. With Christmas falling on a Tuesday, studio executives said the weekend was an unpredictable and distraction-filled one, competing with some of the busiest shopping days of the year.

"We really kick off starting Tuesday," said Warner Bros. distribution chief Jeff Goldstein, who said the "Aquaman" performance came in just above the studio's $65 million forecast. "With kids not really returning to school until January 7, this aligns the stars for us in a really positive way."

Returns were more modest for Disney's "Mary Poppins" sequel and Paramount's "Transformers" spinoff, though each had reason to expect strong business through the holidays.

"Mary Poppins Returns," starring Emily Blunt and directed by Rob Marshall, debuted with $22.2 million over the weekend and $31 million since opening Wednesday. That was on the low side of expectations for the musical, which cost $130 million to make.

"Poppins" still narrowly edged "Bumblebee," which opened with $21 million. That, too, is a soft beginning for a film that cost about $135 million to make after tax credits. It's also far off the pace of the "Transformers" films, the last of which ("Transformers: The Last Knight") debuted with $44.7 million in summer 2017.

1. "Aquaman," $67.4 million ($91.3 million international).

2. "Mary Poppins Returns," $22.2 million.

3. "Bumblebee," $21 million ($31.1 million international).

4. "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," $16.7 million ($38 million international).

5. "The Mule," $9.3 million.

6. "The Grinch," $8.2 million ($23.7 million international).

7. "Second Act," $6.5 million.

8. "Ralph Breaks the Internet," $4.6 million ($9.3 million international).

9. "Welcome to Marwen," $2.4 million.

10. "Mary Queen of Scots," $2.2 million.