Weekend Box Office: 'Aquaman' Swims to $31M; 'Escape Room' Surprises With $18M
Globally, the superhero film hits $940.7 million to become the biggest success story for DC since 'The Dark Knight Rises'; 'Bumblebee' buzzes to $83 million overseas to top the foreign weekend chart.
Superheroes continue to dominate at the box office, where James Wan's Aquaman stayed atop the chart in its third weekend with a domestic haul of $30.7 million, putting the pic's North American total at $259.7 million for a mighty global tally of $940.7 million.
The Warner Bros. film enjoyed a major milestone Friday as it passed up Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ($873.6 million) to become the biggest title in the DC Extended Universe, not adjusted for inflation. Aquaman, starring Jason Momoa in the titular role, is now assured of crossing $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales.
The weekend's only new wide release, Sony's psychological thriller Escape Room, came in ahead of expectations with $18 million, good enough for a second-place finish despite middling reviews and a B CinemaScore. Tracking had suggested the pic would open to no more than $14 million, but a strong turnout among moviegoers under the age of 35, who made up 80 percent of all ticket buyers, propelled the results higher.
Escape Room, costing a reported $9 million to produce before marketing, follows six strangers who find themselves in immersive escape rooms containing deadly traps. Adam Robitel directed.
Disney's Mary Poppins Returns, falling to No. 3, earned $15.8 million in its third outing for a domestic cume of $138.7 million. Globally, the Rob Marshall-directed musical has earned $258 million. The sequel to the iconic 1964 film is rolling out slowly overseas (it is playing in 47 markets, compared with 79 for Aquaman).
Bumblebee and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse are battling it out for fourth place in the films' third and fourth outings, respectively. Sony is claiming victory for Spider-Verse with $13 million, while Paramount puts Bumblebee's weekend earnings at $12.8 million. The outcome won't be official until final numbers are released Monday.
Overseas, Bumblebee scored a victory in buzzing to $82.7 million for the weekend to beat Aquaman ($56.2 million), thanks in large part to a China debut of $59.4 million. The movie's foreign gross through Sunday is $192 million for $289.1 million globally.
Clint Eastwood's The Mule remained a big draw among older adults. The Warner Bros. release fell just 26 percent in its fourth outing to $9 million for a domestic cume of $81.1 million, one of Eastwood's best showings in recent years. The Mule now has a shot at clearing $100 million in North America.
Annapurna and filmmaker Adam McKay's Dick Cheney pic Vice, starring Christian Bale, followed at No. 6 with $5.8 million in its sophomore session. The $60 million film finished Sunday with a North American tally of $29.8 million. It fell the least of any movie in the top 10 (25 percent).
Vice and Mary Poppins Returns are among the movies vying for top awards during Sunday's Golden Globes ceremony. Films that are still in the heart of their runs will enjoy a box office boost from any wins. Vice, in particular, could use the attention if it is to end up in the black after costing $60 million to produce before marketing.
Among other Christmas holdovers, Sony's Holmes & Watson is fading fast. The Will Ferrell-John C. Reilly comedy fell to No. 10 with $3.4 million for a domestic total of $28.4 million. Holmes & Watson opened nationwide Dec. 25, opposite Vice.
Overseas, Holmes & Watson is also struggling. The film earned $1.7 million from 14 markets for a foreign total of $7.1 million and $35.5 million globally.
Annapurna's Destroyer, playing in six theaters, posted the top location average of the weekend in its second outing, or $18,335. The film stars Nicole Kidman, who is up for best actress in a drama at Sunday's Globes ceremony.
Reilly is up for a Globe for best actor in the comedy category for his performance in Sony Pictures Classics' Stan & Ollie, which posted a location average of $12,022 in its sophomore session. The Laurel and Hardy biopic is playing in six theaters as well.
One title shut out of the Globes race is Polish filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War, which had hoped for a nomination for best foreign language film. In its third weekend of play at the specialty box office, Cold War posted a screen average of $15,500.
Also at the specialty box office, Focus Features' On the Basis of Sex, starring Felicity Jones as a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg, upped its location count to 112 cinemas. After two weekends, the feature's domestic cume is a promising $3.8 million.