Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will face rough seas when swimming into theaters over Christmas as the superhero genre continues to struggle.
Hollywood’s major tracking service shows the DC superhero sequel opening to $40 million over the four-day holiday weekend (Dec. 22-Dec. 25), according to sources with access to data compiled by the National Research Group. NRG also gives a range, which in this case is $36 million to $44 million. Warner Bros., home of DC, is being more bullish in providing a projection of $50 million or more for the four days.
The Lost Kingdom isn’t likely to match the debut of the first Aquaman, which took in $75.8 million over the four-day Dec. 21-24 weekend in 2018, and $86.7 through Monday, which was Christmas eve. It’s five-day holiday haul through Christmas day was $97.8 million for a total domestic gross of $104.5 million when including special preview screenings the prior weekend.
Reuniting director James Wan and star Jason Momoa, the movie has faced a number of challenges in reaching the big screen, including several delays, problematic test screenings and three rounds of reshoots. In addition to problematic tracking, the film’s presales are sluggish, according to rival studio sources, although they could pick up as Warners makes its final marketing push.
The big-budget tentpole is still assured of topping the holiday box office, although early tracking isn’t exactly instilling the Christmas spirit in Hollywood executives.
Universal and Illumination’s animated event pic Migration is tracking for a tepid $13 million four-day opening, or a range of $11 million to $15 million, according to NRG data. Like superhero fare, animation is struggling to find its footing in the post-pandemic era. There’s growing concern that families prefer to watch animation at home versus a potentially expensive trip to the movies.
One bright spot is Warner Bros.’ The Color Purple, a musical adaptation produced by Oprah Winfrey, star of the original Steven Spielberg film. NRG shows the movie opening to $7 million on Christmas Day (WB is more bullish at $9 million). Both would be a strong start.
Danielle Brooks plays the role of Sofia in the new The Color Purple, directed by Blitz Bazawule. Fantasia Barrino, who was nominated for a Tony Award for her portrayal of Celie in the Broadway musical adaptation of The Color Purple, reprises the role in the film.
The good news for all holiday movies is that every day between Christmas and New Year’s is like a weekend in terms of box office traffic.
More to come.