Aquaman scores the best opening for a DC film at the Chinese box office since 2016’s Batman v Superman. Though many of installments in the DC Extended Universe (as it’s unofficially known as) received mixed reviews from critics and fans, most performed well at the box office. Unfortunately, that trend did not continue for last fall’s Justice League, which ended its run as the lowest-grossing installment in the franchise. As a result, WB’s future plans were thrown into a state of flux, though there’s reason for hope on the horizon.
DC returns to theaters later this month with James Wan’s Aquaman, which promises to be an entertaining adventure film buoyed by astonishing visual effects. Though full reviews remain under wraps for the time being, initial reactions are quite positive, implying this will be the rebound the DCEU desperately needs. Strong word-of-mouth should increase Aquaman’s box office prospects, and it’s already doing extremely well in one key territory.
According to Variety, Aquaman earned about $24.6 million on its opening day in China (Friday, December 7), which is a record haul for WB. It’s expected to gross approximately $80 million during the weekend, a total that would far exceed the debuts of fellow DC movies Batman v Superman ($55 million) and Wonder Woman ($37.7 million).
Obviously, this is a highly encouraging sign for Aquaman. Back in October, initial domestic opening weekend projections had it pegged for a DCEU-worst bow, in the range of $40-60 million. With no new Star Wars installment this December, several studios are looking to capitalize on the ever-lucrative holiday season, and Aquaman is set to face stiff competition. Mary Poppins Returns is poised to be a massive hit for Disney, and Wan’s latest also goes head-to-head with Transformers spinoff Bumblebee. Since Aquaman isn’t a commercial lock Stateside yet (though, that could very well change as its release draws closer), it will need all the help it can get from the international markets. Even if Aquaman doesn’t break the bank, it should still be in solid shape since its budget is reportedly a manageable $160 million.
China’s proven to be a goldmine for comic book films. Sony’s Venom did extremely well in the country, and was recently granted an extension because it continues to post strong holds. Chinese audiences are fond of superheroes, so it isn’t surprising Aquaman is already off to a rollicking start there. Hopefully, this is just a harbinger of things to come and the film is able to find success when it opens in other parts of the world later this month. WB is already discussing a possible sequel, so they’re clearly confident.