The James Wan directed sequel arrives in theaters on Dec. 22 and Christmas Day falls on a Monday this year. That means business for all movies will be off on Christmas Eve Sunday by -60% from Saturday with all pics spiking well over 100% on Monday. Moviegoing always picks up dramatically from Christmas Day onward.
While that projection may not seem amazing next, note that the first Aquaman only saw an opening weekend of $67.8M. The longer tail for the superhero fish when it came to ticket sales was in his week’s play: The movie in its first seven days cleared $137M plus previews stateside. Ultimately, Aquaman became the highest grossing Warner Bros DC movie of all-time at $1.1 billion worldwide. Granted that total included a massive haul in China of $291.8M (unadjusted for currency swings and inflation) and another $20M from Russia. Those moolah won’t be in the mix this time around; Russia due to Hollywood’s boycott of the Ukraine War and China turning their noses up on U.S. tentpoles.
Similarly, for Aquaman 2 at the box office, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t scream superhero fatigue yet. The first Aquaman received an A- CinemaScore.
In Aquaman 2‘s favor is that mere fact that it’s the top dog over the Christmas holiday with barely any tentpoles in the mix; rather a bulk of awards season contenders i.e. A24’s Iron Claw, and on Christmas day there’s Amazon MGM’s The Boys in the Boat, NEON’s Ferrari, and Warner Bros.’ The Color Purple. In regards to counterprogramming against Aquaman 2 on Dec. 22, Sony has the Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney romcom Anyone But You and Illumination and Universal have the animated bird pic Migration.
Currently Aquaman 2 in unaided awareness (that part of polling whereby respondents cite a movie they want to see without being prodded) is solid for guys, and ahead of that for The Marvels, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and The Flash.
Advance tickets went on sale early to capitalize on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Despite Aquaman 2 star Jason Momoa already putting in an appearance on Saturday Night Live as host, the campaign for the sequel has yet to heat up entirely.
Written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Aquaman 2
In the pre-Christmas frame last year, Disney/20th Century Studios’ Avatar: The Way of Water opened to $134.1M, many in distribution circles unable to comp the sequel and calling a forecast of $150M-$175M. The reason being was because most audiences given the movie’s long running time opted to wait and see the movie in PLF or Imax viewing. However, in hindsight that opening for Avatar 2 was quite massive.