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“Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” Records the Fourth-Lowest Opening in DCEU Franchise History

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Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom Records the Fourth-Lowest Opening in DCEU Franchise History

Despite initial projections of a $32 million to $42 million opening, “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” managed only a modest domestic opening of $28.1 million. This places it as the fourth-lowest opening in the history of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). The film fell short of expectations, as Warner Bros. Discovery had anticipated a more substantial debut. The $28 million estimate represents a significant contrast to the impressive $67.8 million garnered by the first “Aquaman” movie during its debut weekend in 2018. The unexpected shortfall raises questions about the film’s performance relative to its predecessor and its standing within the broader context of the DCEU franchise.

Anticipated to mark Jason Momoa’s probable final portrayal of the titular aquatic hero, the film is projected to achieve approximately $40 million in ticket sales during the four-day Christmas holiday weekend. The weekend performance of “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” aligns with the recent trends in Warner Bros.’ DC franchise. Notably, since 2018, only one film from the franchise has debuted with over $60 million in ticket sales — “Black Adam,” which secured $67 million in early 2022, as per Comscore data. This places “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” within the context of the franchise’s box office performance, highlighting the comparative figures of recent DC releases.

The projected opening revenue of $28 million falls below the $30.1 million achieved by “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” earlier this year. It’s noteworthy that the second “Shazam!” installment garnered $57.6 million domestically and $133 million globally throughout its theatrical run. In contrast, “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” generated an additional $80.1 million from international ticket sales over the Friday-through-Sunday period. With this international contribution, the film is expected to reach a total global box office of $120 million, encompassing the domestic projections for Christmas Day. The comparison between the two films underscores the performance dynamics within the DC Extended Universe franchise and provides insight into the early reception of “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.”

In 2018, the initial “Aquaman” release similarly profited from international ticket sales, with over 70% of its impressive $1.15 billion box office revenue originating from markets beyond the U.S. and Canada, as reported by Comscore data. Remarkably, “Aquaman” holds the title as the highest-grossing film within the DC Extended Universe franchise. Since the release of that film, no other DCEU production has managed to surpass the $400 million mark in global box office earnings, highlighting the enduring success and impact of “Aquaman” within the broader context of the franchise.

The franchise has faced criticism for subpar quality, with reviewers expressing reservations about CGI-laden action sequences and disjointed attempts to unite heroes for team-up scenarios. Additionally, pandemic-related restrictions during 2020 and 2021 contributed to diminished box office openings for the franchise, further challenging its performance during these years.

Despite the easing of restrictions and the return of audiences to theaters, the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) has encountered challenges in regaining the interest of even its most dedicated fans. The situation was compounded earlier this year when Warner Bros. Discovery revealed plans for a complete reboot of the entire franchise in 2025, under the newly appointed heads of DC Studios, James Gunn and Peter Safran. This announcement disappointed fans, who now question the continuity and relevance of recent releases like “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” “Blue Beetle,” “The Flash,” and “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.” The uncertainty surrounding these films, all released post-announcement, has left fans feeling that they may not be essential viewing experiences and may not connect with future DC projects.

The “Aquaman” sequel finds a positive aspect in its limited competition in theaters next week, potentially benefiting from the upcoming holidays. With school vacations prompting parents to seek out-of-home entertainment, the film stands to capitalize on this festive season. Despite the notion of superhero fatigue affecting many films in the genre in 2023, leading to lower-than-expected opening weekend results, late December releases like “Aquaman 2” often adopt a long-term strategy. According to Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, these films tend to attract audiences throughout the holiday season and into the new year, leveraging the holiday spirit and increased leisure time.

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Siya
Siya has a master’s degree in Marketing and editor with passion. He holds 7 years’ experience in this field. She holds a keen interest in the know-how of what is brewing in healthcare and science.

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