Rejoice, DC fans. For the first time since “The Dark Knight Rises” in 2012, a non-Marvel superhero film has grossed $1 billion worldwide, as “Aquaman” hits the milestone after six weekends in theaters worldwide.
In addition, the Warner Bros. release is the first billion-dollar hit in nearly five years that was not released by either Disney or Universal. The last film to reach $1 billion from outside those two studios was Paramount’s “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” which grossed $1.1 billion in summer 2014.
The road to $1 billion began with the film’s release in China on the first weekend of December, when it opened to a studio-record $94 million. Since then, the Chinese total has grown to $287 million, pushing the film’s overseas total to a DC record of $732 million.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., “Aquaman” was the clear film of choice during the holiday season. While its $67.8 million opening seems small compared to other recent DC releases, the Christmas season lends itself to strong numbers over several weeks. Sure enough, “Aquaman” has seen its domestic total leg out to $287 million, pushing closer to $300 million.
Warner Bros. did a significant reshuffling of their studio’s DC division after the disappointing results of “Justice League,” which served as Aquaman’s big screen introduction but only made $657 million worldwide despite also featuring Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. A new approach to the franchise was promised, and audiences have responded with approval. With “Aquaman” now a success, DC looks to a 2019 with a lot of upside, as it releases the light-hearted “Shazam” in April and the dark, mid-budget “Joker” starring Joaquin Phoenix in October.