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A crowded pack of year-end holiday films faces a herculean task: Make up for their being no Star Wars film for the first Christmas since 2014. By all accounts, Aquaman and Mary Poppins Returns, in particular, appear up to the challenge as the North American box office heads toward a record year.
Directed by Rob Marshall, Mary Poppins Returns will take flight Wednesday in order to get a jump on the competition. The follow-up to the classic 1964 film stars Emily Blunt as the iconic nanny alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda, Emily Mortimer, Ben Whishaw and Angela Lansbury. Dick Van Dyke, who starred opposite Julie Andrews in the original pic, makes a cameo.
Projections are tough at this time of year, but tracking shows the family-friendly musical grossing roughly $55 million for the Wednesday-Sunday stretch, and north of $70 million between Wednesday and Christmas Day.
James Wan’s Aquaman is set to swim into theaters Friday alongside Transformers spinoff Bumblebee, Welcome to Marwen and Second Act.
Aquaman, which stars Jason Momoa in the titular role, is expected to be a Christmas superhero with a Friday-Tuesday gross north of $100 million. The Warner Bros. and DC pic has already earned north of $270 million overseas, where it began opening two weekends ago.
Paramount’s Bumblebee, an origin story directed by Travis Knight and starring Hailee Steinfeld, is tracking to gross a solid $40 million or more during the Friday-Tuesday corridor.
The holiday forecast for STXfilms’ Second Act, a romantic comedy starring Jennifer Lopez, and Universal’s Welcome to Marwen, starring Steve Carell, is much more modest.
Second Act is tracking to earn around $9 million in its first five days. Directed by Peter Segal, the movie follows a woman in her early 40s who gets a second chance at the career she always wanted after a private firm mistakenly hires her to handle a major business deal.
Welcome to Marwen, directed by Robert Zemeckis, is projected to gross $7 million to $9 million over the five days. The biographical dramedy, based on Jeff Malmberg’s documentary, tells the story of a man who was violently assaulted by five men after telling them he is a cross-dresser. Losing his memory and suffering from PTSD, he constructs an imaginary World War II village named Marwencol, while at the same time being asked to testify against his attackers.
Christmas Day will get even more competitive. That’s when Annapurna’s Dick Cheney pic Vice, helmed by Adam McKay and starring Christian Bale and Amy Adams, and Sony’s Holmes and Watson, starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, open nationwide.
Each of the new films is counting on a huge multiple between Dec. 25 and Jan. 1, which is considered the most lucrative corridor of the year.
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