Warner’s Modest ‘Aquaman 2’ Christmas Weekend Box Office Continues DC Extended Universe’s Theatrical Woes

A weak opening for Warner Bros. Pictures’ Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, with just an estimated $40 million in North American ticket sales over the Christmas holiday weekend, brings the DC Extended Universe franchise to a disappointing close.

Heading into the extended Christmas box office weekend, the sequel — the final film in the series of superhero films and a television series produced by DC Studios and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures — didn’t arrive in theaters with high expectations.

It wasn’t expected to rival the 2018 original Aquaman (also starring Jason Momoa in the title role), which generated almost $68 million across the Christmas weekend en route to a $1.15 billion global run, including $335 million in North America.

The Lost Kingdom, which generated a promising $80 million across foreign screens for a $120 million worldwide opening, started slowly out of the domestic gate, generating $4.5 million in Thursday screenings — about half the revenue of the original Aquaman Thursday screenings five years ago.

The sequel’s opening follows DCEU’s 2023 trend of theatrical miscues, including The Flash, with $55 million opening weekend ticket sales; Shazam! Fury of the Gods ($30 million); and Blue Beetle, with $25 million in opening ticket sales. The three movies generated a combined global box office of $534 million on reported combined production budgets of $429 million, excluding marketing.

Indeed, the Thursday (Dec. 21) tally for Lost Kingdom barely topped the special screening ticket sales for the studio’s previous-weekend box office champ, Wonka, which saw another $4.2 million in Thursday ticket sales. The musical is projected to sell $28 million in tickets through Christmas, upping its total gross past $83 million in North America and almost $255 million globally.

At No. 3, Universal Pictures/Illumination’s animated Migration sold $12.3 million in tickets through Christmas Eve, with an estimated $17 million through Dec. 25, upping its global haul past $39 million.

Columbia Pictures’ R-rated comedy, Anyone But You, co-starring Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell, made $3.45 million on Friday, $1.76 million on Saturday, and a projected $1.025 million on Christmas Eve. The Sony studio is expecting upwards of $2.765 million in ticket sales on Monday for a four-day holiday opening weekend near $9 million.

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Separately, Apple Original Films produced and Sony Pictures distributed Napoleon made $3.7 million in overseas ticket sales, bringing the Ridley Scott-directed historical actioner’s international tally to $139.2 million, and $198.4 million globally through Sunday. Apple/Sony say the film is on track to surpass $200 million worldwide on Boxing Day (Dec. 26).

Finally, Lionsgate’s prequel The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes took in an estimated $3.15 million through Christmas Eve, and a projected $4.3 million through Dec. 25 in North America, upping the movie’s domestic tally to $153.6 m. Overseas, the film took in another $3.9 million across 84 territories, lifting the international total to an estimated $162 million, and $315.6 million globally.

Disc Puts ‘Birds of Prey’ Atop U.K. Film Chart

With scant new releases due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Warner Home Video’s Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn re-entered the U.K.’s Official Film Chart in the No. 1 position for the first time for the week ended June 24 following its release on 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc, Blu-ray and DVD.

Originally peaking at No. 3 from its digital release in April, the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) standalone sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad stars Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and chronicles the character’s adventures after splitting up with the Joker. Quinn teams up with superheroes Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and tough cop Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) to save a young girl being targeted by nefarious crime lord Roman Sionis/The Black Mask (Ewan McGregor).

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Universal Pictures’ Dolittle moved up to the No. 2 spot, ahead of eOne’s 1917. The Personal History of David Copperfield (Lionsgate U.K.) jumped 20 spots to No. 4. Set in the 1840s, this modernistic adaptation of Charles Dickens’ semi-autobiographical classic was written and directed by Armando Ianucci and stars Dev Patel as the eponymous character.

The previous week’s No. 1 release, Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount Pictures) fell to fifth, ahead of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s perennial Top 10 placer Bad Boys for Life. Animated feature Onward (Disney) dropped to seventh, just ahead of Disney/Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which returned to the Top 10 in eighth position.

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Disc also helped Disney/Fox’s The Call of the Wild re-enter the chart in ninth, while Sony Pictures’ Jumanji: The Next Level remained in the Top 10 for the 12th straight week.