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HomeBox OfficeBox Office: Warner Bros. Tops Busy XMas Weekend with Three Relative Hits

Box Office: Warner Bros. Tops Busy XMas Weekend with Three Relative Hits

It was an insanely busy Christmas weekend at the box office with nine new wide releases, six opening on Thursday or Friday, and then another three on Christmas Day. Because of the latter, we will be handling this week’s box office report in stages.

It was a good weekend for Warner Bros, who had two movies in the top 5 over the weekend and were likely to add a third one with the opening of The Color Purple on Christmas Day. It was also a great weekend for international cinema, with four movies from other countries in the top 10, including two new movies from India.

However you decide to report the weekend, whether it be the three days or including a fourth day including Christmas, Warners’ superhero sequel, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, returning Jason Momoa to the title role with James Wan back directing, was the winner of the weekend, maybe with not as much as hoped. The original Aquaman opened with $67.8 million in December 2018 and ended up grossing $1.1 billion worldwide, but its sequel won’t even come close.

First of all, Warners opened the movie in 3,706 theaters this past weekend vs. the 4,107 theaters of the first movie, but the sequel also had a lot more competition… and much, much worse reviews. After making just $4.5 million in Thursday previews, The Lost Kingdom ended up with $13.7 million on Friday (including those previews), which added up to an opening weekend of just $27.7 million. For some perspective, that’s only slightly better than Blue Beetle in August and only a slightly better opening than James Gunn‘s The Suicide Squad, which opened at the height of COVID with a day-and-date release on the former HBO Max.

Things were the tiniest bit better including Christmas Day, which gave it a 4-day weekend of $38.3 million, but the movie’s “B” CinemaScore was nothing to write home about either, so it might not even make $150 million domestically.

UPDATED: Aquaman got some added help from international box office with a reported $94.9 million through Monday, including $33.7 million in China, $5 million in Mexico, $3.6 million in Indonesia, and other territories. That brings its global total to $133.2 million through Monday.

Warner Bros. also took second place in North America with Timothée Chalamet‘s musical prequel Wonka, which brought in another $18 million over the three-day weekend and $28.4 million, including Christmas Day. It has grossed $85.9 million domestically in its first two weeks with a whole week to bring its total well over $100 million. Wonka has grossed $177.6 million international through Monday with $39.1 million of that coming from the UK. It has grossed $263.5 million globally since opening earlier in December.

Before we get to the rest of the weekend top 10, we need to make a quick jump over to Warner Bros’ third weekend release, The Color Purple, based on the Broadway musical, itself based on Alice Walker‘s prizewinning novel, which opened on Christmas Day sans previews and scored an estimated $18.2 million in 3,152 theaters or roughly $5,758 per-theater. That’s almost as much as Wonka made over the three-day weekend, so it’s likely The Color Purple will be in the top three for the four-day weekend just based on its opening day. It possibly could be #1 for the weekend, especially considering its terrific “A” rating from audiences via CinemaScore.

Migration, the latest animated family film from Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures, was released into 3,761 theaters on Friday with previews on Thursday that brought in $1.5 million from shows beginning as early as 2pm. Over the weekend, it ended up with an extremely weak $12.4 million, a far cry from some of Illumination’s past holiday hits like Sing ($35.3 million opening in 2016) and Sing 2 ($22.3 million in 2022). The animated comedy made a projected $17.8 million, including Christmas Day, and audiences gave it an “A” CinemaScore, so it could continue to do well through January with no other new family films.

Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell starred in the rom-com, Anyone But You, directed by Will Gluck (Easy A), which Sony released into 3,055 theaters for a fifth place showing with $6 million over the three-day weekend and $8 million, including Monday. Reviews were moderate at best, though Sony is probably happy with its 85% Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as its “A-” CinemaScore.

Harris Dickinson (L) in The Iron Claw (A24)

The wrestling drama, The Iron Claw, directed by Sean Durkin and starring Zac Efron, opened in 2,774 theaters on Friday with $1.2 million in Thursday previews, and it ended up making just over $4.9 million over the three-day weekend. It’s estimated to make $1.9 million on Christmas Day for a four-day weekend of $6.8 million, which would be sixth place for the extended weekend.

Of the two “Bollywood” releases this weekend, the Telugu language action movie, Salaar: Cease Fire — Part 1, did significantly better than Yash Raj Films‘ Dunki, starring Bollywood legend, Shah Rukh Khan. The latter opened on Thursday with $800k, but that was a full day, while Salaar made $2.5 million on Thursday, just from previews. With that sort of number – better than all the previews other than Aquaman – one would expect Salaar to have an easy time getting into the top five, but it ended up being quite frontloaded with theaters charging premium prices for those wanting to see it early.

Salaar ended up in sixth place for the three-day weekend with an estimated $5.5 million over the three-day weekend for fifth place.

Also in the mix for the four-day weekend was George Clooney‘s The Boys in the Boat, starring Joel Edgertonwhich opened on Christmas Day but with advance previews that brought in $1.7 million and contributed to its opening day of an estimated $5.7 million. That puts it in eighth place for the four-day weekend just from its opening day. Also receiving an “A” CinemaScore gives it a good chance of a strong showing over its first full weekend ahead.

Searchlight Studios also expanded Yorgos Lanthimos‘ Poor Things, starring Emma Stone, into 800 theaters, but with so many new movies, it was going to have a hard time breaking into the top 10. Sure enough, it ended up just outside with $2.1 million over the three-day weekend.

Also opening on Christmas Day was Michael Mann‘s Ferrari, starring Adam Driver, released by NEON into 2,330 theaters, where it brought in $2.9 million, averaging roughly $1,236 per theater. ($656k of that amount came from earlier previews, so we’ll have to see how it holds up in its first full weekend.)

Platforming over the weekend in New York and L.A. were Andrew Haigh‘s All of Us Strangers; Sony Classics‘ Freud’s Last Session, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins and Matthew Goode; and the festival hit, Memory, starring Jessica Chastain and Peter Sarsgaard. Opening in only four theaters, Haigh’s movie, starring Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal, fared the best with $119k, averaging almost $30k per theater. Memory followed with $36.3k in two theaters, while Freud’s Last Session still didn’t do bad with $45.6k, roughly half the per-theater average for Memory.

Weekend Box Office (Note: The below chart is for the three-day portion of the extended holiday weekend.)

Rank Entry Distributor Revenue Theater Count Total Revenue
1 Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom Warner Bros. $28,100,000 3,706 $28,100,000
2 Wonka Warner Bros. $17,700,000 4,213 $75,203,000
3 Migration Universal $12,310,000 3,761 $12,310,000
4 Anyone But You Sony Pictures $6,235,000 3,055 $6,235,000
5 Salaar: Cease Fire — Part 1 Prathyangira Cinemas $5,481,000 796 $5,481,000
6 The Iron Claw A24 $5,059,776 2,774 $5,059,776
7 The Boy and the Heron (君たちはどう生きるか) GKIDS $3,154,405 1,580 $30,581,661
8 The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes Lionsgate $3,150,000 2,509 $152,462,500
9 Godzilla Minus One (ゴジラ最新作) Toho International $2,740,000 1,965 $40,357,817
10 Dunki Yash Raj Films $2,600,000 686 $4,600,000
Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas has written about movies for print and the internet for over 20 years, specializing in box office analysis, reviews, and interviews. Currently, he writes features for Below the Line and Above the Line, acting as Associate Editor for the former and Interim Editor for the latter.


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