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If that number holds, the tentpole will finish Sunday with a domestic total of $189 million, meaning it could clear $200 million by the end of New Year’s Day. Overseas, Aquaman swam past the $500 million mark on Friday for a worldwide haul approaching $700 million in a needed win for DC’s superhero universe.
Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns, easily holding at No. 2, is gaining ground after a relatively slow first weekend, and is up the most of any film. The musical earned $10.6 million on Friday for a sophomore outing of $30 million, an uptick of 29 percent. Mary Poppins will jump the $100 million mark sometime on Sunday in North America.
Facing tough competition from Aquaman for fanboys, Bumblebee is eying a domestic total of $65 million through Sunday.
Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse follows at No. 3 with a projected $19.4 million.
Warner Bros. and Clint Eastwood’s The Mule rounds out the top five with estimated weekend earnings of $12 million for a domestic cume of $57 million, Eastwood’s best showing in recent years behind Sully and American Sniper.
Warners had triple duty Thursday, when it partnered with Fathom Events for an encore performance of Peter Jackson’s World War I documentary They Shall Not Grow Old in 1,007 theaters. The doc scored a Fathom record with $3.4 million and, including grosses from a previous Fathom event, has earned $5.7 million in the U.S. (They Shall Not Grow Old is already available on DVD in the U.K., where it had a limited theatrical run before airing on the BBC).
Holmes and Watson may only earn $7.5 million for the weekend after getting ravaged by critics — its current score on Rotten Tomatoes is 7 percent — and audiences, who slapped the Will Ferrell-John C. Reilly comedy with a rare D+ CinemaScore.
Holiday comedy Second Act, starring Jennifer Lopez, is also eying a $7.5 million weekend. Now in its second outing, the STX release is pacing to finish Sunday with a muted domestic cume of $21 million.
Universal and DreamWorks’ Welcome to Marwen remains the biggest dud of the Christmas season. The film is looking at a second-weekend gross of $2.3 million for a total through Sunday of just $7.8 million.
Several awards contenders launched in select theaters on Christmas Day, including On the Basis of Sex, starring Felicity Jones as a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Destroyer, starring Nicole Kidman. On Friday, Sony Pictures Classics opened Stan & Ollie, also starring Reilly, in New York and Los Angeles.
On the Basis of Sex, playing in 33 locations, is expected to post the top location average of the weekend, or an estimated $20,000. Destroyer is eying a location average of nearly 14,000 from three theaters; Stan & Ollie, $13,500 or more from five cinemas.
Dec. 29, 8 a.m. Updated with Friday grosses and revised weekend estimates.
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