Warner Bros.' "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" had a domestic opening weekend of $28.1 million, making it the fourth-lowest opening in the history of the DC Extended Universe. This falls short of the film's initial expectations of an opening between $32 million and $42 million. It is also less than half of what the first "Aquaman" movie earned during its debut weekend in 2018.
The film, which is expected to be Jason Momoa's last appearance as Aquaman, is projected to earn around $40 million over the four-day Christmas holiday weekend.
In recent years, the performance of "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" is in line with other films from Warner Bros.' DC franchise. Only one film, "Black Adam," has debuted with more than $60 million in ticket sales since 2018.
The $28 million opening for "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" is smaller than the $30.1 million opening for "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" earlier this year. However, it should be noted that the second "Shazam!" film had a lower total domestic and global box office collection compared to its predecessor.
Internationally, "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" generated $80.1 million in ticket sales over the weekend. The first "Aquaman" also performed well internationally, with over 70% of its $1.15 billion box office coming from markets outside of the U.S. and Canada.
The DC Extended Universe franchise has faced criticism for its CGI-heavy action sequences and disjointed attempts at team-up movies. The pandemic also contributed to smaller box office openings in 2020 and 2021. Despite the lifting of restrictions and the return of audiences to theaters, the franchise has struggled to regain its fan base. The announcement of a reboot in 2025 by the new heads of DC Studios, James Gunn and Peter Safran, further disappointed fans who believed that recent releases like "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" would have no connection to future DC projects.
However, one potential advantage for "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" is its limited competition in theaters next week and the upcoming holiday season, which may attract more viewers.
Overall, while the film's opening fell below expectations, its performance throughout the holiday season and into the new year could still be significant.