Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, the second installment of the Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. superhero franchise, captured first place in American theaters with a low tally over a slow Christmas weekend.
The film brought in $38.3 million in US and Canadian theaters over the four days through Monday, according to an estimate from Comscore Inc.
Warner Bros.’ films dominated the holiday weekend, including two musical remakes, Wonka and The Color Purple, that finished in second and third place. Migration, an animated kids movie from Universal Pictures’ Illumination unit, came in fourth.
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Results for the weekend were below last year, and as little as half those of previous Christmas weekends, according to Box Office Mojo. A resurgence of covid-19 cases could be a factor, along with an overall trend for consumers to wait to see films at home when they become available for streaming.
Streaming services are competing more for movie fans as well, with many spending as much on made-for-TV films as studios do on those in theaters. The No. 1 film last week on Netflix, Rebel Moon — Part One: A Child of Fire, was written and directed by Zack Snyder, who was previously responsible for many Warner Bros. superhero pictures. Netflix promoted the film like a Hollywood blockbuster, with installations and fan events around the globe.
The new Aquaman lacked the punch of previous holiday weekend releases. The film took in less than half what the first film in the series delivered in 2018. Star Jason Momoa said before the picture came out that this may be his last time playing the role. The film received poor reviews, with only 36% of critics recommending it, according to Rotten Tomatoes.
Aquaman 2 caps a difficult year for Warner Bros.’ superhero pictures. Two earlier releases, The Flash and Shazam! Fury of the Gods, disappointed at the box office. The company’s DC Studios unit has two new executives planning their own slate of films.
“The genre is by no means dead, but the growth has stopped,” David Gross of the research firm FranchiseRe said in an email. “We’re in a different world now.”