Sometimes the most intense competitions are those between only two competitors, even when there are others sharing that field. This perhaps can be best illustrated by the long and storied rivalry between Disney and Warner Brothers in film and television, and between Marvel and DC Comics in terms of, well, superhero comic books. This has since escalated with both comic publishers now being subsidiaries of the studios, Disney-Marvel and Warner-DC respectively. Both have launched cinematic superhero franchises in past years, with Warner-DC mostly playing catch-up to Disney-Marvel’s runaway blockbusters. Uncommonly the reverse may happen, like with Warner’s latest superhero movie.
The Hollywood Reporter has it that “Aquaman”, the latest installment of Warner Bros. Pictures’ DC Extended Universe, is now in a strong position to break $900 million in the box office by the time its cinematic run concludes. As of the last Sunday of 2018, December 30, its earnings have reached $751.8 million with a greater likelihood of going further. This is good news for DC-Warner, which has been battered box office-wise by Disney-Marvel Studios and their Marvel Cinematic Universe film series juggernaut. To date, the MCU has almost always schooled the haphazardly-developed DCEU, which until “Aquaman” has only 2017’s “Wonder Woman” as a contender.
While past Warner-DC superhero films before the DCEU, like the “Dark Knight” trilogy directed by Christopher Nolan, have been powerful cinematic juggernauts (the concluding “Dark Knight Rises” having earned $1.09 billion worldwide in 2012), their movies as part of their shared-timeline DCEU have struggled against the MCU. Their most successful installments of the franchise so far had been “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” ($873.6 million in 2016) and “Wonder Woman” ($821.8 million in 2017). With the current momentum of “Aquaman”, it can possibly equal or surpass both of them.
“Aquaman” was directed by James Wan of “Saw” fame, and stars Jason Momoa (“Conan the Barbarian” and “Game of Thrones” in 2011) alongside Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Temuera Morrison. It follows the titular DC superhero, a half-human and half-Atlantean who is able to live underwater, has super-strength and high-speed swimming abilities plus the ability to mentally communicate with sea life, and is next in line to be King of Atlantis.
The latest DCEU film grossed $188.8 million in its US premiere within only 10 days, while overseas it earned $560 million, including $260 million from Chinese cinemas, a strong indicator of success in that significant movie-going market. American exit polls show “Aquaman” as being roughly equal in popularity for male and female audiences (56% male, 44% female) and also a strong family film with a second-week family (parents with children) audience turnout of 32% percent.
Image courtesy of Heroic Hollywood