Box Office: DC Films' 'Aquaman' Tops $950M Worldwide

DC Films and Warner Bros.’ Aquaman took its first real hit yesterday, which is understandable since it was the first weekday that wasn’t part of a holiday break.

The James Wan-directed underwater adventure earned $2.605 million (-70% from Sunday and -74% from last Monday) to bring its domestic total up to $262.6m.

That puts it just above the raw domestic grosses of The Incredibles ($261m in 2004 sans 3-D) and The Amazing Spider-Man ($262m in 2012).

It is now the 26th-biggest superhero movie in unadjusted-for-inflation domestic earnings (counting The Matrix Reloaded’s $281m gross back in 2003).

Among comic book adaptations (superhero or otherwise), it is the 24th-biggest in North America just ahead of Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($259 million in 2014) and Amazing Spider-Man ($262m in 2012) but well behind Man of Steel $291m in 2013). Inflation paints a different picture, but we can save that conversation for when we get a better idea of its final domestic gross. That Monday drop may be steep, but it’s actually still smaller than National Treasure: Book of Secrets (-73% from Sunday and -85% from its previous Monday) back in 2008.

I’ve been using the Nic Cage sequel as a measuring stick since it opened on the same day as Aquaman in 2007 and ended up with 4.91x its $44.7 million debut weekend. That seemed like an impossible multiplier for a big-scale comic book superhero movie that opened with $72.5m. Yet, here we are on day 18, and the Jason Momoa/Amber Heard flick has already earned a 3.62x weekend-to-final multiplier, making it already leggier than I Am Legend ($256m/$77m), all three Hobbit prequels (Battle of the Five Armies opened on a Wednesday) and the last two December Star Wars movies.

Unless it crashes hard from here on out, it’ll end up leggier than Tron: Legacy ($171 million/$44m in 2010) and even some of the big “opened on a Wednesday” Christmas blockbusters (Return of the King, King Kong, etc.). We’re still looking at a $300m+ domestic cume, perhaps as early as Martin Luther King Day, and a $311m+ domestic finish makes it the leggiest comic book superhero movie since Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ($135m/$25m in 1990) and the leggiest straight-up “opened on a Friday” superhero movie since Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves ($165m/$25m in 1991).

Heck, that would make it leggier than the “didn’t open on a Friday” likes of Batman Begins ($206m/$48m Fri-Sun) and Amazing Spider-Man ($262m/$64m Fri-Sun). Point being, it may be playing like a Hobbit prequel on steroids, but it’s legging it out like a mid-level Christmas biggie despite being the big man on campus. Right or wrong, people like this movie, be it because they like comic book superhero movies and/or because they like big-budget fantasy adventure epics set in impossibly fantastical worlds (Avatar, Lord of the Rings, Black Panther, etc.), and are continuing to flock to theaters to see it.

The movie has already earned $683.2 million overseas as of Sunday, putting it on track to pass $700m overseas (which is what both Desolation of Smaug and Battle of the Five Armies earned overseas respectively) in a matter of days. Presuming it earned at least $3m overseas yesterday (and it has been playing better over there than over here, and not just in China), it should cross the $950m worldwide benchmark today. Once it passes $962m, it’ll have passed the last two Hobbit prequels to make it WB’s biggest-grossing global hit since The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in 2012.

And it’ll have passed Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle to become the biggest non-Walt Disney/non-Universal grosser since Paramount/Viacom’s Transformers: Age of Extinction ($1.1 billion in 2014). Whether or not DC Films ever reaches the relative pop culture and commercial heights of the MCU, the likes of Batman v Superman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman make the case that it’s at least comparable (on the superhero universe scale) to Illumination. Whether it is fated to be the Rodney Dangerfield of superhero universes, I’m sure Warner Bros. and friends will take the money and say “Thank you, next.”