Weekend Box Office: 'Ralph 2,' 'Grinch' in Close Pre-Holiday Battle

Courtesy of Disney; Courtesy of Illumination and Universal Pictures
'Ralph Breaks the Internet,' 'The Grinch'

There are no new nationwide releases on the marquee in North America; in China, 'Aquaman' is swimming to victory ahead of its U.S. debut.

A pair of holdover family films — Ralph Breaks the Internet and The Grinch — are easily leading a quiet frame at the North American box office. The duo are in a close race for No. 1 with a projected $15 million-$16 million each.

There are no new nationwide releases this weekend in the run-up to the Christmas crush.

Rather, the big action is overseas, where Warner Bros. is unfurling Aquaman in China two weeks before the movie swims into theaters in the U.S. Aquaman debuted to a rousing $25 million on Friday. On Saturday, the superhero pic earned another $37.2 million for a two-day total of $61.1 million and a weekend haul of $80 million-plus, the best showing ever for DC comic book adaptation.

Ralph Breaks the Internet, from Disney Animation Studios, is in its third weekend, while Illumination/Universal's holiday-themed The Grinch is in its fifth.

MGM and New Line's Creed II also remains a formidable contender in its third outing. The film, starring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone, is on course to place third with roughly $10 million. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and Bohemian Rhapsody round out the top five.

Elsewhere, A Star Is Born, which earned five Globe nominations, is getting a one-weekend special showing in Imax theaters, while Universal is re-releasing a remastered cut of Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List in more than 1,000 cinemas timed to the Oscar-winning film's 25th anniversary.

Rereleases don't generally do big business, and Schindler's List is no exception. Projections show the film earning under $700,000 for the weekend. And thanks to its Imax berth, A Star Is Born will actually be up for the weekend.

DreamWorks and Participant Media's Green Book is seeing a big boost at the box office after also scoring top globe noms. The film, distributed by Universal and playing in 1,181 locations, looks to fall just 5 percent from last weekend.

A flurry of titles open at the specialty box office, including Ben Is Back, Vox Lux and Mary Queen of Scots. (It's too early in the weekend to assess how they are faring.) The doc Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Aisles is likewise opening in a smattering theaters, as well as on VOD.

The domestic box office begins picking up in earnest next weekend with the release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Once Upon a Deadpool and Clint Eastwood's The Mule. That's followed by a slew of other holiday titles including Mary Poppins Returns on Dec. 19, as well as Aquaman and Bumblebee on Dec. 21.

Dec. 8, 7:15 a.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.