Warner Bros. Pictures’ and DC’s “Aquaman” swam into a crowded Christmas release weekend by earning $13.7 million in Thursday box office previews. That number is inclusive of $4.7 million from other special opening and preview events. It will open on approximately 4,125 screens this weekend.
The superhero origin story’s two biggest competitors this weekend include Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns,” which opened on Wednesday, Paramount’s prequel to their “Transformers” franchise, “Bumblebee.”
“Aquaman” is projected to make as much as $115 million over the five-day weekend, and between the two days leading up to Christmas, it hopes to match the three-day total of its predecessor, “Justice League.” That film opened to $93.8 million after powering its way to $13 million in its Thursday box office. That was enough to beat the preview totals set by DC’s “Wonder Woman” as well.
Jason Momoa stars in James Wan’s “Aquaman” as Arthur Curry, who learns that he’s the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis and must lead his people. It co-stars Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman, Patrick Wilson and Dolph Lundgren and has a 68 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Bumblebee” brought in $2.15 million in its Thursday previews, and it made an additional $700,000 in sneak previews on Dec. 8, bringing its cumulative total to $2.85 million so far.
This is the first “Transformers” film not to be directed by Michael Bay, but it’s hoping to do at least as well as “The Last Knight” from 2017. That film opened to only $64 million in its five-day window, a franchise low, after earning $5.5 million from Tuesday night previews over the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Bumblebee” is directed by Travis Knight, an alum of the stop-motion animation studio Laika, and it’s an ’80s period piece about a teenage girl (Hailee Steinfeld) who discovers the yellow alien Autobot in a junkyard and is soon swept up into an adventure when she learns he’s no normal VW Beetle. The film also stars John Cena, Justin Theroux, Dylan O’Brien and Angela Bassett and has a surprising 95 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Second Act,” from STX, stars Jennifer Lopez in a rom-com about a working-class woman who reinvents her life in order to succeed on Madison Avenue. It opened to $515,000 in Thursday previews from approximately 2,000 locations ahead of opening on 2,607 screens this weekend. Industry tracking projects an opening around $8 million, but possibly as high as $10 million, for the $16 million budgeted film. By comparison, the similarly-budgeted Mark Wahlberg family comedy, “Instant Family,” made $550,000 on Thursday and opened to $14 million last month.
Universal and DreamWorks Pictures’ “Welcome to Marwen,” starring Steve Carell in a fantasy from Robert Zemeckis, also opens this weekend in 1,911 North American locations. It grossed $190,000 in previews from 1,600 theaters on Thursday. Projections are between $5-9 million for the PG-13 fantasy.
And on Christmas Day, Annapurna is releasing the Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” while Sony releases the Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly comedy team-up “Holmes & Watson.”