Warner’s ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ Looking to Replace ‘Wonka’ Atop Christmas Weekend Box Office

An extended Christmas weekend box office finds Warner Bros. Pictures looking to expand upon its late-year theatrical success (beyond last week’s Wonka) with the new DC superhero sequel Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom — again featuring Jason Momoa in the title role.

The movie is projected to generate upwards of $40 million in North American ticket sales, according to new data from Box Office Pro. That would continue DC’s underwhelming theatrical run in 2023, underscoring moviegoers’ increased fickleness toward the superhero genre in general.

Quite a difference from 2018 when the original Aquaman opened with $100 million in Christmas weekend ticket sales enroute to a $1.1 billion global box office run through April 19, 2019.

Regardless, the opening the Lost Kingdom tally could be enough to hold off the second weekend of Wonka, which is projected to generate upwards of $37 million across its second weekend of release.

Universal/Illumination’s latest animation feature film Migration is projected to open with about $25 million in ticket sales — a reality check for the studio, whose last feature — The Super Mario Bros. Movie — realized an Easter weekend opening box of more than $166 million.

Other new releases include Columbia Pictures romance comedy Anyone But You ($8 million), featuring Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell; Warner’s musical adaption of The Color Purple ($22 million); and Amazon/MGM’s college rowing drama The Boys in the Boat ($5 million) — the latter starring Joel Edgerton.

‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ Dominates Wintery Christmas Weekend Box Office

Disney-owned 20th Century Studios’ sci-fi fantasy sequel Avatar: The Way of Water dominated the frigid Christmas weekend box office, generating more than $64 million in ticket sales Dec. 23-25. The tally upped the follow-up to James Cameron’s 2009 original Avatar to nearly $900 million in global revenue. An estimated $26 million haul on Monday, Dec. 26, puts the film’s domestic tally north of $287 million after 11 days — good enough to rank as at least the No. 8 box office release in 2022.

The holiday weekend box office was hampered in part by arctic weather conditions through much of the country that left millions without power and resulted in myriad moviegoers staying home.

Similar weather conditions greeted the sophomore weekend for the original Avatar, which would go on to have strong theatrical legs generating $760 million in North American revenue and all-time No. 1 global revenue of $2.92 billion (though some earnings came via theatrical releases in the subsequent decade).

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Meanwhile, three major studio new releases largely failed to measure up to pre-release expectations. Universal Pictures’ DreamWorks Animation sequel, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish bowed at No. 2 with more than $11 million in ticket sales. The follow-up to 2011’s Puss in Boots was projected to top $15 million in revenue.

At No. 3, Sony Pictures’ Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody generated more than $5 million, which was almost half of pre-release estimates around $10 million.

Paramount Pictures’ period comedy Babylon saw about $3.5 million in ticket sales — about 50% below the projected $7 million tally for the Brad Pitt/Margot Robbie-starrer. With a reported $80 million production budget and millions more spent on marketing, the movie puts a damper on the studio’s stellar 2022 theatrical campaign that saw Top Gun: Maverick top all movies at the box office to date. Other major releases, including Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Smile, The Lost City and Scream all finished No. 1 in their theatrical weekend debuts.