'Aquaman' has already made more money than its production budget, and is looking at a big opening in the US

Warner Bros.‘Aquaman.’
  • “Aquaman” has already made over $US266 million at the international box office, more than its estimated production budget of $US160 million.
  • Some of the pressure is off the movie as it enters its opening weekend in the US.

Warner Bros. bet that its latest DC Comics superhero movie, “Aquaman,” would make a splash in China, and that bet paid off.

“Aquaman” has grossed more than $US266 million internationally, and its estimated production budget was $US160 million, according to IMDb Pro. The movie opens in the US this weekend and is already outpacing “Wonder Woman” in Fandango presale tickets.

“Wonder Woman” opened with $US103 million in the US, and while Warner Bros. is estimating $US65 million for “Aquaman,” industry projections put it at $US120 million over the five-day holiday from Friday to Christmas, according to Box Office Mojo.

Read more: ‘Aquaman’ director James Wan chose the character ‘everyone makes fun of’ because there’d be less pressure. Then the DC Comics franchise imploded.

When “Aquaman” premiered in China two weeks ago, it made $US94 million in its opening weekend and was the biggest movie in the world. Since then, it has since grossed a total of $US189 million there, according to Box Office Mojo. The following week, the movie rolled out to more than 40 more international markets, including the UK, Russia, Mexico, and Brazil.

It’s rare for a Hollywood movie to open in China before the US, but the international box office, particularly China, has become essential for blockbusters. And China has shown a willingness this month to approve more imported movies as it looks to reach its box-office goal by the end of the year.

“I’m a little bit surprised,” director James Wan told Business Insider of the movie’s success in China. “But I knew the movie was designed to be a movie that is one for the whole family. And it’s an action movie, it’s fantasy – it’s got all these elements that I think travel well internationally. So from that respect, I’m not surprised. But I am surprised by how incredible the word of mouth has been over there. It’s been amazing.”

After the disappointing performance of “Justice League,” the pressure was suddenly on “Aquaman” to steer Warner Bros.’ DC Comics franchise in a new direction, and rolling the movie out in a nontraditional way has certainly helped raise its profile.

As Exhibitor Relations tweeted following the movie’s China premiere, “Monsters and mayhem-just the sort of movie that slays in China.” Other examples this year include two movies starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – “Rampage” and “Skyscraper” – which were labelled as failures in the US but became success stories after opening in China.

Now, some of that pressure is off “Aquaman.” The movie is entering its US opening weekend with already more than $US250 million to its name and a 68% Rotten Tomatoes critic score – decent compared to the 40% “Justice League” garnered.

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