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Aquaman Box Office: The New DCEU Hit Crushes Mary Poppins And Bumblebee

Jason Momoa in his Aquaman costume holding the trident in Aquaman 2018

We have been looking forward to this box office showdown for weeks. On Friday audiences nationwide saw five new wide releases playing on the big screen, and analysts have been speculating for months about how things would turn out once the dust cleared. Now he finally have an answer, and it turns out that Arthur Curry's ascension to become the king of Atlantis has been matched by James Wan's Aquaman earning this week's box office crown. Check out the full Top 10 below, and join me after for analysis!

Weekend Box Office Aquaman December 21-23, 2018 CinemaBlend

While Rob Marshall's Mary Poppins Returns and Travis Knight's Bumblebee put up a good fight (more on them later), Aquaman earned the number one spot this week by earning about three times as much as both of them. It's been more than a year since we've seen a new entry from the DC Extended Universe, with Zack Snyder's Justice League under-performing and disappointing last November, but the good news is that the franchise has come back strong. The movie has been riding high on positive buzz for weeks thanks to an early review embargo lift/international release, and that translated to some solid numbers for the aquatic superhero.

It should be noted that the numbers don't look amazing when compared to the other releases from the DCEU, but that's why context is important. When looking at the franchise as a whole, Aquaman actually has the lowest domestic opening of any title released (Justice League is ahead of it, having made $93.8 million in its first three days), but none of the other titles had competition on the level that James Wan's film had. One also can't continue this discussion without mentioning the absolutely crazy numbers that the blockbuster is posting in foreign markets. After this weekend, the movie has made nearly $500 million which is a really a stunning amount when you consider that Justice League ultimately only made $657.9 in its entire worldwide run.

Aquaman is clearly off to an awesome start, but the road ahead may be tricky. Audiences are definitely loving the adventure, and it has earned an "A-" on CinemaScore, but it will be interesting to see how long its legs wind up being. Around this time last year it was Star Wars: The Last Jedi that was absolutely crushing at the start, but come January it was Jake Kasdan's Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle that wound up repeatedly taking the top spot.

Jason Momoa in his Aquaman costume holding the trident in Aquaman 2018

Of course, that history, plus the impressive run by Michael Sucsy's The Greatest Showman, should also be highly considered by both Mary Poppins Returns and Bumblebee. While neither is able to now say that they are the number one movie in America, both managed to put up solid numbers and now sit in positive places. Sure, they didn't exactly meet hopes and expectations, but they have time.

Mary Poppins Returns had a bit of a head start on the weekend, coming out on the 19th instead of the 21st, but even that bonus didn't allow it to get much of a boost in its first week of theatrical release. There were estimates a few weeks ago that suggested that the throwback sequel could make as much as $70 million in its first few days, but the reality is that the movie made about half of that. It's still on track to do well, thanks to solid reviews, an "A-" CinemaScore, and box office earnings that have bumped it up an extra $20 million. It still has a bit of road to go before it fully justifies the reported $130 million it cost to make before marketing, but the fact that it's a feature as family-friendly as it is suggests it should continue do well as we get into the first few weeks of the new year.

As for Bumblebee, the film is much like Aquaman in that it's the title with the slowest opening for its respective franchise (Transformers: The Last Knight made $44.7 million when it came out in June 2017), but the competition factor once again is a major element. What this one has working in its favor, however, is something that the others did not: positive critical buzz. The blockbuster is holding firm at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, and that should at the very least spark up some curiosity from those who feel that they were burned by the Michael Bay features. This one is meant to be a bit of a fresh start for the brand, most notably in that it's a prequel set years before all of the Bayhem, and it will be interesting to see what its final numbers are domestically (particularly when you consider Transformers: The Last Knight wound up making only $130.2 million domestically, which was only a little over 20 percent of the total grosses).

The three films discussed so far were always expected to be one, two and three at the box office, but Peter Segal's Second Act and Robert Zemeckis' Welcome To Marwen were seen as wild cards. As expected, neither of them performed phenomenally, though the former most definitely did better than the latter, while both earned negative responses from critics.

The romantic comedy Second Act was hailed as a throwback for some, pleased to see the return of Jennifer Lopez on the big screen, but it didn't exactly inspire a whole lot of ticket sales. Out in more than 2,600 theaters, it only managed to make a little more than $6.5 million - though that isn't the worst score when you consider that it's reported budget was only $16 million.

The outlook for Welcome To Marwen, on the other hand, is a lot worse. Not only did the feature only make it into the Top 10 by $300,000, but it only made a third of what Second Act did while costing more than twice as much (it had a $39 million budget). This one is definitely going to go down as a bomb, though it's certainly not Robin Hood/Mortal Engines-level bad.

All of the big movies mentioned here will continue to duke it out from now until the end of 2018, but it's worth noting that Christmas will see a couple more new releases join the dog pile. How will Adam McKay's Vice and Etan Cohen's Sherlock & Watson change things up? Come back next Sunday to find out.

NJ native who calls LA home; lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran; endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.