'Aquaman' tops 'Mary Poppins Returns' and 'Bumblebee' to become king of the weekend box office

Warner Bros.‘Aquaman.’
  • “Aquaman” won the weekend box office with an estimated $US72.1 million.
  • It beat out other big releases out this weekend, “Mary Poppins Returns” and “Bumblebee.”
  • “Aquaman” now has a worldwide total of over $US480 million.

Warner Bros. sure is happy there wasn’t a “Star Wars” release this holiday season.

The Disney franchise has dominated the end-of-year box office since 2015’s “The Force Awakens,” which led to analysts uncertainty over whether a single movie would be able to pick up the slack at the December box office this year. But Warner Bros.’ DC Comics Extended Universe has proven the naysayers wrong and has stepped in to lead the box office going into the important Christmas holiday.

Among a crowded field of new releases this season, “Aquaman” has risen to be as big of a draw domestically as it is globally.

The movie took in an estimated $US72.1 million over the weekend (including preview showings earlier in the week), beating out other big releases that opened going into Christmas – Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns” and Paramount’s “Bumblebee.”

Mary poppins emily bluntDisney‘Mary Poppins Returns.’

“Mary Poppins Returns” came in second with $US22.2 million while “Bumblebee” came close behind in third place with $US21 million.

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.

It’s a major win for Warner Bros., which has been on a roller coaster ride trying to make its DCEU as dominant in the superhero space as Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe. Whenever the industry thought it was gaining momentum, say, with the big success of 2017’s “Wonder Woman,” it would take a few steps back, like with the disappointing “Justice League.”

WB/DCEU is back on top with “Aquaman.” Already the biggest box office earner ever in China, scoring $US300 million-plus, the movie started strong going into its domestic box-office premier. The movie now has a $US480 million-plus worldwide net.

Now the industry will watch to see if the James Wan-directed superhero movie will get to a $US100 million five-day domestic opening by the time it gets to Christmas.

Bumblebee paramountParamount‘Bumblebee.’

But Warner Bros. isn’t the only studio happy this weekend. Paramount must be ecstatic to be so close to knocking off Disney for second place with its latest Transformers movie, “Bumblebee.” Having the best Rotten Tomatoes score out of all the new releases (94% rating, compared to 64% for “Aquaman” and 77% for “Mary Poppins Returns”), it will be a photo finish to see if a Transformer or a posh English nanny will earn the silver by Christmas.

Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns” opened lower than “A Wrinkle in Time,” which earned the $US33.1 million and “Christopher Robin,” which found $US24.5 million. It’s surprising to see a Disney title not dominating this time of year, but with Poppins seeing mixed reviews and competing with strong fandoms, it has left the family-friendly title trying to find its footing. But business could pick up by Christmas when more families head out to the theatres.

Then there’s Sony’s holdover “Spider-Man: Into to Spider-Verse,” which is staying strong despite all these new titles, which is a testament to its quality. The movie took in $US16.7 million over the weekend, and has earned $US85 million for its worldwide total.

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