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Imagine being James Wan. Waking up today to realize your Aquaman movie is now officially DC Comics' highest-grossing movie to date. Over the weekend, the DCEU movie passed The Dark Knight Rises at the worldwide box office. That was the final hurdle. Aquaman is now not only the king of the DC Extended Universe, he even defeated Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy.
According to Box Office Mojo figures from Sunday, January 27, Aquaman has made $1,090,754,074 and counting worldwide, from a combined $316,554,074 at the domestic box office and $774,200,000 and the foreign box office.
That edges it past 2012's The Dark Knight Rises, although not adjusted for inflation. The worldwide total for the final film in the Dark Knight trilogy is $1,084,939,099. That's from $448,139,099 domestic and $636,800,000 foreign.
The Dark Knight Rises had the highest worldwide gross of that trilogy, over The Dark Knight at $1,004,934,033 in 2008, and Batman Begins at $374,218,673 in 2005. (That is exactly the kind of $$$ growth you want to see in a trilogy -- each film making more than the previous one.) Aquaman already broke Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice's record for highest overall gross of the DCEU movies to date. So now Aquaman is the top DC/Warner Bros. movie overall.
You can see some similarities in the breakdown of domestic (U.S./Canada) and foreign audiences for Aquaman and Dark Knight Rises, although the difference is more pronounced for Aquaman. The Dark Knight Rises got more money around the world, but it was pretty close to the North American tally. You can see fewer fans over here bought tickets for Aquaman than Dark Knight Rises, but boy did they make up for that at the foreign markets.
For comparison's sake, because I'm both curious and nerdy, I used an inflation calculator to determine how The Dark Knight Rises would do in today's numbers. The online calculator I used referenced the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, which said prices in 2018 were 9.37% higher than prices in 2012. That's not an exact measure, since it's talking about overall prices rather than specifically ticket prices -- which vary theater by theater.
However, using that calculator for comparison, the $1,084,939,099 The Dark Knight Rises made in 2012 would translate to $1,186,598,091.99 in 2018. We are now in early 2019, but January is still basically on 2018 metrics. So, based on that, The Dark Knight Rises is still ahead in ticket traffic and overall revenue. But if you adjust one movie for inflation, you have to do them all, and that's too much for one day.
Ticket prices may have gone up, but people are still spending the money to see movies in theaters. So Aquaman currently has the highest overall worldwide tally of the DC Comics film world, and that's that. Period.
James Wan had tweeted one word -- "Crazy" -- when it was noted on Friday that Aquaman would be taking the DC crown from The Dark Knight Rises. When Aquaman became the first DCEU film to pass $1 billion, he shared some heartfelt posts thanking everyone who helped make it happen -- including the fans.
What's next? Aquaman 2 is reportedly in the works, although currently without James Wan attached. Everyone wants him on board, but he is said to be 1) taking a well-deserved break right now, and 2) waiting for Aquaman 2 to have a worthy script. That sounds smart on every level. Also, hold out for $$$$, man. You can. You should.
Aquaman is still chugging along in theaters, and it's a great way for the DCEU to segue into Shazam! which is ramping up promotion for its April 5 release in theaters. Keep up with all things DCEU in our handy guide. There's also Joaquin Phoenix's Joker movie, which is separate from the DCEU and doing its own interesting things. Keep an eye on our 2019 movie calendar so you don't miss any of the major (and minor, love you too) releases.