World Box Office: Aquaman drowns the competition

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Aquaman washed away the competition at this weekend’s global box office race, taking in $126.4 million from 43 markets and clinching a second top finish on the combined domestic and international chart. Warner Bros.’ latest entry in its DC Universe comic adaptations built on a near $100 million China debut in the last frame, adding 42 new territories and taking the first spot in all but one of these.

Middle Kingdom showings dropped 42% for a still massive $54.2 million, while new plays in Mexico, Brazil, and Russia were worth $7.9, $7.7 and $7.4 million. Just across the Formosa Strait from Mainland China, opening weekend in Taiwan netted $4.7 million and marked WB’s best local opening to date. It made $5.3 million in Indonesia’s steadily growing film market and scored $4 million from India’s still largely untapped 1.3 billion potential theatergoers.

Aquaman, which along with Wonder Woman, is the only recent DC film to have gotten more than a handful of credible positive reviews, sits at $261 million after two frames in small to medium markets and China. It moves into the US and most of Europe next week and looks set to take full advantage of the very long weekend offered by this year’s Christmas, falling on a Tuesday.

On the domestic front, Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse swung into first place with a strong $35.4 million opening. Spider-Verse‘s main character is Miles Morales, the Puerto Rican Spidey who debuted to significant racist backlash in 2011. Early on in the film, villain Kingpin opens up an inter-dimensional portal as part of one of his evil schemes, but in doing so allows many different versions of the comic hero to team up against him. Morales is joined by two versions of Peter Parker, the original Spider-Man and the one featured in Sony and Disney/Marvel’s previous films, as well as Spider-Girl, and even a short-lived comic hero called Peter Porker, the Spider-Ham. Reviews have been very positive, and audiences have been as enthusiastic, giving the film an A- Cinemascore. Into the Spider-Verse made $21 million overseas as well for a worldwide launch of $56.4 million and should carry on strongly during the holidays and into early January.

Staying in the US, 88-years-old Clint Eastwood introduced The Mule, this weekend’s second-biggest domestic opener and number two film. Clint stars as an old man who takes advantage of his innocuous profile to take on bigger and bigger smuggling runs for a Mexican cartel until he becomes one of the DEA’s most wanted traffickers. Eastwood directed, produced, and starred in the film along with Bradley Cooper, Laurence Fishburne, Andy Garcia, and Dianne Wiest. The Mule took $17.2 million in its US opening and will move into European markets and Singapore in January.

While these two films had fairly good openings, this weekend’s biggest title was a resounding flop. Universal’s Mortal Engines made just $19 million in 55 markets including $7.5 million in fifth place at home. Peter Jackson produced the film – estimated to have cost up to $150 million – while longtime effects collaborator and protegé Christian Rivers made his far-reaching feature debut as director. Universal looks set to take a massive hit on this film, which is losing nearly all its target demographic to the other two comic book films at the top of the charts this weekend.

Next week we’ll see Holmes and Watson, Vice and Stan & Ollie.

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