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Weekend Box Office: AQUAMAN AND THE LOST KINGDOM Opens to $40M Over Christmas Frame

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Copyright: © 2023 Warner Bros. Ent. All Rights Reserved. TM & © DC — Photo Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros Pictures/ ™ & © DC Comics; © 2023 Illumination Entertainment and Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.

On Christmas weekend in most recent years, a single film has earned $100M+ – from four Star Wars releases in the 2010s, to Spider-Man: No Way Home in 2021 and Avatar: The Way of Water in 2022.

This weekend, the total box office is poised to earn less than $100M total.

Here’s a breakdown, with a full table of box office grosses to be added on Monday.


#1 = Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Warner Bros. superhero sequel failed to make a splash in the marketplace with a $40M 4-day and $28.1M 3-day debut. Using the three-day figure for comparison, that’s:

  • -58% below December 2018’s original Aquaman = $67.8M
  • -39%% below November’s The Marvels = $46.1M
  • -49% below June’s The Flash = $55.0M
  • -58%% below 2022’s Black Adam = $67.0M
  • -6% below March’s Shazam!: Fury of the Gods = $30.1M
  • Only +12% above August’s Blue Beetle = $25.0M

Audience demographics

Kingdom’s estimated audience demographics included:

  • 42% white, 27% Hispanic, 19% black, 8% Asian
  • 48% from premium formats
  • Gave the film a “B” CinemaScore, lower than the original Aquaman’s “A-”

Warner Bros. did not report gender or age splits, as they had in 2018 for Aquaman. That film’s opening weekend audience was:

  • 55% male
  • 21% under 18, 42% under 25, 60% under 35

Overseas / global

Lost began with $80.1M overseas and $120.1M globally, or 66% overseas.

Unless it holds much better than expected, it will have a tough time matching 2018’s original Aquaman with $808M overseas and $1.14B globally.

#2 = Wonka

Last weekend, Warner Bros.’ fantasy musical took a bite at the box office with a first place debut of $39.0M.

Now in its sophomore frame, it failed to hold like an Everlasting Gobstopper with a -55% drop to $17.7M.

That’s steeper than several other December family-friendly musicals from the past decade, that’s:

  • 2017’s The Greatest Showman = -11%
  • 2019’s Cats = -27%
  • 2014’s Annie = -32%
  • 2014’s Into the Woods = -40%
  • 2018’s Mary Poppins Returns = -44%

It’s also steeper than the sophomore drop of 2005’s (non-musical) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory = -50%.

Wonka has earned $75.2M through 10 days. That’s -34% below 2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory through the same point in release with $114.0M, worse than its -30% opening weekend.

#3 = Migration

Universal’s Illumination animated comedy didn’t quite fly with a $12.3M debut.

Versus other comparable 2023 animated titles, that’s:

  • -59% below November’s Trolls Band Together = $30.0M
  • -58% below June’s Elemental = $29.6M
  • -56% below August’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem = $28.0M
  • -37% below November’s Wish = $19.6M

Versus some other animated comps from recent holiday seasons, Migration also opens:

  • -44% below December 2021’s Sing 2, also from Illumination = $22.3M
  • -1% below 2022’s Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, the new animated release of last year’s Christmas frame = $12.4M
  • +1% above November 2022’s Strange World = $12.1M

Audience demographics

Migration’s estimated audience was:

  • 50% male / 50% female
  • 52% ages 25+
  • 43% white, 30% Hispanic, 14% Asian, 9% black

#4 = Anyone But You

Sony Pictures’ romantic comedy began with $6.2M.

That’s below three of this year’s four other main R-rated comedies:

  • -58% below June’s No Hard Feelings = $15.0M
  • -25% below February’s Magic Mike’s Last Dance = $8.3M
  • -24% below August’s Strays = $8.2M
  • However, it opened +7% above July’s Joy Ride = $5.8M

Anyone also opened below most other romantic comedies from the past five years, in no small part because most were PG-13:

  • -62% below 2022’s Ticket to Paradise = $16.5M
  • -37% below September’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 = $10.0M
  • -21% below 2022’s Marry Me = $7.9M
  • -65% below 2019’s What Men Want = $18.2M
  • -56% below 2019’s Isn’t It Romantic = $14.2M
  • -45% below 2019’s Last Christmas = $11.4M
  • -36% below 2019’s Long Shot = $9.7M
  • However, it opened 2.6x above May’s Love Again = $2.3M

#5 = Salaar

Moksha Movies and Pathyangira Cinemas’ three-hour Indian Telugu-language action thriller debuted with $5.4M.

That’s slightly below three comparable Indian film openings at this year’s North American box office:

  • -10% below September’s Jawan = $6.1M
  • -16% below December’s Animal = $6.5M
  • -20% below January’s Pathaan = $6.8M

The film’s full title is Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire.

#6 = The Iron Claw

A24’s wrestling drama pinned $5.0M from 2,774 screens in its 3-day debut. The film is tracking to hit $7.5M over the 4-day holiday frame. 

Compared to other wrestling-themed awards contender dramas, that opening is:

  • +35% above the best weekend for 2008’s The Wrestler = $3.7
  • More than 4x the best weekend for 2014’s Foxcatcher = $1.1M

(Both films implemented an expanded rollout, rather than a wide debut as Iron is.)

Iron earns an “A-” CinemaScore, the highest ever for distributor A24.

#7 = The Boy and the Heron

Now in its third frame, GKIDS’ and Studio Ghibli’s Japanese-language anime from director Hayao Miyazaki falls -43% to $3.1M.

By its fifth day of release last Tuesday, it had already become Miyazaki’s top film ever at the domestic box office. It’s now earned $30.5 total through 17 days, more than doubling Miyazaki’s prior best: 2009’s Ponyo with $15.0M.

#8 = The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

In its sixth frame, Lionsgate’s dystopian action prequel declined -46% to $3.1M.

It’s earned $152.4M through 38 days. While nobody expected it to earn as much as the four original Hunger Games films, it’s running better through the same point in release than its opening weekend would have predicted:

  • -59% below 2012’s The Hunger Games with $372.0M, better than its -70% opening 
  • -61% below 2013’s Catching Fire with $390.9M, better than its -71% opening 
  • -50% below 2014’s Mockingjay Part 1 with $306.7M, better than its -63% opening 
  • -42% below 2015’s Mockingjay Part 2 with $264.5M, better than its -56% opening 

Songbirds is also running -28% behind 2016’s Harry Potter spinoff prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them through the same point in release with $214.2M, better than its -40% opening.

Read Boxoffice PRO’s interview with The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes director Francis Lawrence here:

https://www.boxofficepro.com/fading-snow-director-francis-lawrence-on-kindling-the-franchise-with-origin-story-the-hunger-games-the-ballad-of-songbirds-and-snakes/ 

#9 = Godzilla Minus One

In its fourth frame, Toho International’s Japanese-language monster movie experiences a drop of “minus” 46% to $2.7M.

It’s earned $40.3M through 24 days. While nobody expected it to earn as much as the three most recent English-language Godzilla films, it’s running better through the same point in release than its opening weekend would have predicted:

  • -78% below 2014’s Godzilla with $185.2M, after opening -87%
  • -60% below 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters with $102.5M, after opening -76%
  • -53% below 2021’s Godzilla vs. Kong with $86.6M, after opening -64%

#10 = Dunki

Yash Raj Films’ Hindi-language comedy-drama Dunki debuted with $2.6M in 10th place.

Outside the top 10

Poor Things

In its debut frame, Searchlight Pictures’ Poor Things opened to $661K in nine theaters. Its $73,470 per-theater average ranks #3 of the year so far, behind only June’s Asteroid City with $142K and April’s Beau is Afraid with $80K.

Then in its sophomore frame, it expanded to 82 theaters and earned $1.2M, cracking the top 10 in tenth place.

Now in its third frame, it expands wider to exactly 800 theaters and $2.1M, repeating in 10th place.

Read Boxoffice PRO’s interview with Poor Things cinematographer Robbie Ryan here:

https://www.boxofficepro.com/and-god-created-woman-cinematographer-robbie-ryan-reunites-with-yorgos-lanthimos-on-poor-things/ 

Trolls Band Together

In its sixth frame, Universal’s animated three-quel declines -52% to $1.8M.

Band has earned $93.0M through 38 days. That’s -36% behind 2016’s Trolls through the same point in release with $145.4M, slightly worse than its -35% opening weekend.

Limited releases

Searchlight Pictures’ fantasy drama All of Us Strangers was no stranger to box office success, opening in limited release with an estimated $132K in four theaters. Its $33K per-theater average ranks #13 of the year so far.

Read Boxoffice PRO’s interview with All of Us Strangers writer/director Andrew Haigh here:

https://www.boxofficepro.com/the-power-of-love-writer-director-andrew-haigh-reflects-on-his-haunting-drama-all-of-us-strangers/ 

Last weekend, A24’s drama The Zone of Interest launched its staggered rollout with a $124,791 debut in four theaters. Its $31,198 per-theater average ranked #14 of the year so far.

Now in its sophomore frame, it expands from four to six theaters, earning $89,931 for a $14,989 average.

Last weekend, MGM’s satirical dark comedy American Fiction opened in limited release with $224,469 in seven theaters. Its $32,067 per-theater average ranked #13 of the year so far.

It expanded from seven to 40 theaters this weekend. Studio weekend estimates were not yet available as of this writing.

Release schedule note

Three major films will open wide on Monday for Christmas Day:

  1. Warner Bros.’ musical The Color Purple
  2. MGM’s historical sports drama The Boys in the Boat
  3. Neon’s biopic Ferrari

Weekend comparisons

Total box office this weekend comes in around $93.3M.

Here’s how this weekend compares to last weekend, the same weekend last year, and the same weekend in the last pre-pandemic year of 2019:

Weekend

Total

This weekend is:

Leader

Last weekend

$75.8M

+23%

Wonka = $39.0M

Same weekend in 2022

$94.7M

-1%

Avatar: The Way of Water second frame = $63.3M

Same weekend in 2019

$247.8M

-62%

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker = $177.3M

YTD comparisons

Year-to-date box office stands around $8.61B.

Here’s how that compares to last year and the last pre-pandemic year of 2019:

Year

YTD total

2023 YTD now:

After last weekend:

Trend

2022

$7.08B

+21.5%

+22.3%

Down

2019

$10.84B

-20.5%

-19.5%

Down

Top distributors

Grouped by parent company, the YTD leaders are:

  1. Disney + 20th Century + Searchlight + Star: $1.887B
  2. Universal + Focus Features: $1.877B
  3. Warner Bros.: $1.25B
  4. Sony Pictures + Sony Classics + Crunchyroll + Affirm: $971.7M
  5. Paramount: $840.4M

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