When it comes to weekend box office reports, this weekend was the most competitive in recent memory, with three huge films opening, in addition to some counter-programming. Now that the dust has settled, Warner Brothers’ ‘Aquaman’ came out on top with $67.4 million. With early previews added, the film has taken in $72.1M domestically. It has almost hit the half-billion mark globally and is expected to clear that by Christmas on Tuesday. This success hasn’t earned the picture any goodwill from critics, though. It has a pretty weak 64% Rotten Tomatoes ranking.
What’s unusual is typically the audience for superhero movies is majority male, but women over 25 made up 45% of the audience for ‘Aquaman’ and they loved it, giving it an 84% positive ranking. It’s obvious that a huge part of ‘Aquaman”s appeal is its beefy star Jason Momoa. It also helps that Momoa is very active on social media and has been hyping the heck out of this picture. Its CinemaScore is an A-, with those under 18 giving it a solid A.
15% of ‘Aquaman”s gross came from IMAX screens and it is being touted as a film that should be seen in the larger format, which also helps inflate its take.
‘Aquaman’ drowned the competition, with the #2 movie, ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ making $22.2M over three days, versus ‘Aquaman”s $67.4M. While ‘Aquaman’ is appealing outside of the typical demographic, the same could be said of ‘Mary Poppins Returns’, which is surprisingly not resonating with kids! Only 60% of children would recommend this film.
There was some expectation that ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ would clear $30M in its opening, but it fell short of that. However, it is vastly outperforming last year’s ‘The Greatest Showman’ and like that film, as well as other musicals like ‘La La Land’ and ‘A Star Is Born’, it is expected to play well over the long haul. It is pegged to easily clear $200M during its domestic theatrical run.
On the negative side, even though ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ is not a remake of an animated movie, it has been lumped in with the likes of ‘The Jungle Book’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’, as well as the upcoming ‘Dumbo’, ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Aladdin’. Some people are sick of the live action remakes and are making that known on social media. Although ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ isn’t one, it is facing the same backlash.
Others are rejecting the casting of Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Still others are upset that Dick Van Dyke makes a cameo, while Julie Andrews doesn’t. (Andrews turned down a role because she didn’t want to upstage Blunt.) Critics have been generally kind, with it boasting a 77% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Audiences are loving ‘Bumblebee’, giving it an A- CinemaScore. Exiting audience members ranked it higher than either ‘Aquaman’ or ‘Mary Poppins Returns’. Critics also agree, with it sitting at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, better than either of its competitors. Making $21M, it just barely falls behind ‘Mary Poppins Returns’.
As with ‘Aquaman’, ‘Bumblebee”s stars, Hailee Steinfeld and John Cena are actively promoting this picture on social media.
‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ and ‘The Mule’ have held up well, and round out the Top Five. That means the other two major releases for the weekend, ‘Second Act’ and ‘Welcome to Marwen’ failed to measure up. The Jennifer Lopez vehicle ‘Second Act’ made $6.5M and because its budget was so low ($16M), it should ultimately do okay.
On the other hand, ‘Welcome to Marwen’ was thought to be an awards season hopeful, but after critics destroyed it– with it resting at a dismal 25% Rotten Tomatoes ranking– those hopes are pretty much gone. Making only $2.3M, and generating negative buzz, it isn’t likely that it will recoup its $39M budget. While it wasn’t as disastrous a flop as ‘Mortal Engines’, it still looks to be one of the biggest bombs of the year.
For the record, ‘Second Act’ ranked at #7, falling behind ‘The Grinch’, while ‘Welcome to Marwen’ came it at #9, behind ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’.
Overall, every movie came in lower than expected, and that is being blamed solely on Christmas.
- Aquaman (Warner Brothers) – $67.4M
- Mary Poppins Returns (Disney) – $22.2M
- Bumblebee (Paramount) – $21M
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Sony) – $16.7M
- The Mule (Warner Brothers) – $9.9M
Next week will see the release of two films starring John C. Reilly, the slapstick ‘Holmes & Watson’, costarring Will Ferrell, and ‘Stan & Ollie’, the Laurel and Hardy biopic, with Steve Coogan. Also opening is ‘Vice’, directed by Adam McKay, which many have tagged as the best film of the year. Nicole Kidman appears in ‘Aquaman’, but she headlines the thriller ‘Destroyer’. And finally, there is the Ruth Bader Ginsberg biopic ‘On the Basis of Sex’, starring Felicity Jones.