‘Aquaman 2’ Opens to $80 Million Overseas, ‘Wonka’ Milestone



Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” opened to $80 million at the international box office, which isn’t all that super considering those ticket sales are on par with eventual big-budget superhero disappointments like “The Flash,” “The Marvels” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.”

The comic book sequel, starring Jason Momoa as the king of Atlantis and directed by James Wan, has generated $120 million globally to start, including a weak $40 million in North America. The Warner Bros. and DC film cost $205 million and is shaping up to be the latest underperforming tentpole for DC following this year’s string of misfires: “The Flash,” “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” and “Blue Beetle.” 

Beyond the terrible reviews and mediocre audience scores, “Aquaman 2″ is struggling because it has been positioned as a lame duck in the DC Extended Universe. It’s the final installment before DC’s new bosses, James Gunn and Peter Safran, reset the sprawling superhero universe… likely without Momoa’s ruler of the underwater kingdom.

The first film, 2018’s “Aquaman,” debuted at a time when comic book movies could do no wrong at the box office. It became a massive commercial success with $816 million internationally and $1.14 billion globally. The original was particularly huge in China, opening to $93 million and ending its run with $292 million. But Hollywood movies haven’t worked in China since the pandemic, and “The Lost Kingdom” was no exception. The sequel didn’t come anywhere close to the popularity of the original, bringing in just $30 million over the weekend from 28,140 screens. Outside of the Middle Kingdom, other top international markets were Mexico with $5 million, Indonesia with $3.6 million, France with $3.2 million and the U.K. with $3 million.

“Today, the Chinese market is a fraction of what it was for American movies,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “Overall, foreign business should still be good, just not outstanding.”

Warners may not be breaking out the bubbly for “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,” but the studio has more to celebrate with “Wonka,” which crossed the $250 million mark after two weeks of release.

The prequel story, starring Timothée Chalamet as the eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka, added $33.2 million from 77 international markets, a scant 33% drop from the prior weekend. “Wonka” has generated $171.3 million overseas and $254.9 million to date. It’s a sweet tally since the film cost $100 million.

Elsewhere, Universal and Illumination’s animated comedy “Migration” has underwhelmed at the international box office with $22 million after two weeks of release. It opened in North America with $17 million over the four-day holiday, bringing its worldwide total to $34 million. The film, written by Mike White and featuring the voice cast of Kumail Nanjiani, Elizabeth Banks and Awkwafina, cost a reasonable $70 million. But the studio is hoping that “Migration” enjoys the staying power of recent family movies, such as “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” and Pixar’s “Elemental. The adventure, about ducks who get lost as they head south for winter, has generated positive reviews and audience scores, which bodes well for its holiday run.


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