More than Spider-Man or a transforming Volkswagen — more even than a magical nanny — an underwater escape with Jason Momoa as Aquaman proved itself to be the most appealing diversion for audiences over the post-holiday weekend.
“Aquaman,” which marked the arrival of a moneymaking superhero for Warner Bros. when it debuted last week, sold an estimated $51.6 million in tickets in North America between Friday and Sunday. That figure comes despite somewhat unenthusiastic reviews from critics; audiences, who gave the film an A-minus in CinemaScore exit polls, may have helped the movie through word of mouth. The film also continues to do well overseas, where it made $85.4 million this weekend for a foreign total of $560 million, according to the studio.
Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns,” the family musical sequel, actually did better this weekend than when it opened last weekend, presumably bolstered by families looking for something that would excite both kids (uplifting music) and adults (Lin-Manuel Miranda and Emily Blunt in 1930s garb). The film was this weekend’s No. 2 performer at the box office and brought in about $28 million domestically, a 19 percent increase from its opening weekend.
Other movies that benefited from a post-holiday bump included Sony’s critically lauded “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” which made $18.3 million this weekend (11 percent more than the previous weekend), and Warner Bros.’s “The Mule,” a Clint Eastwood film that made $11.8 million this weekend for a 24 percent increase, according to Comscore, which compiles box-office data. Disney’s “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” an animated sequel with a title character voiced by John C. Reilly, made $6.5 million in its sixth weekend, a 39 percent increase.
Less jolly news for Reilly was the performance of Sony’s “Holmes & Watson,” which was released on Christmas Day. The Etan Cohen-directed comedy, with Reilly playing the sidekick to Will Ferrell’s Sherlock Holmes, earned just $7.3 million over the weekend for an estimated total of $19.7 million in ticket sales since its midweek release — a disappointing result for a film that cost Sony $42 million to make. It doesn’t take a master detective to see that negative reviews (the movie currently holds a 9 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes) likely contributed to that outcome. Another Christmas Day release — Annapurna’s “Vice,” with Christian Bale as Dick Cheney — performed comparably, bringing in $7.8 million over the weekend and $17.7 million over the course of the week.
“Bumblebee,” Paramount’s very well-reviewed “Transformers” prequel, made $20.5 million over the weekend to take the No. 3 spot.