‘Aquaman 2’ Hits Choppy Waters With $28 Million Debut at Christmas Box Office

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (Credit: Alon Amir/Warner Bros.)

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom got off to a slow start at the weekend box office, with an estimated $28.1 million 3-day domestic debut.

That was enough to top the box office, but less than half of the $67.8 million the first Aquaman opened with in December 2018.

The new film played in 3,706 locations across the U.S. and Canada, for a per theater average of $7,582, according to box office tracking company Comscore.

With projected Christmas day ticket sales added in, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is expected to earn $40 million over four days. Overseas, it made $80.1 million for a global total of $120.1 million.

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The superhero saga sees Jason Momoa return as Aquaman and features a star-studded cast that includes Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Kidman, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Randall Park, Martin Short, Temuera Morrison, and Amber Heard.

Writer-director James Wan returned to helm the Warner Bros. sequel. Despite Wan and Momoa reteaming on a second Aquaman, the film hit choppy waters and may struggle to recoup its reported $205-$215 million budget, plus marketing costs.

The film marks the final installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), which will likely end with a whimper.

Critics pummeled the sequel, giving it a low 36 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times described the film as “waterlogged with boring villains and underwhelming visuals.”

Carla Hay of Culture Mix called the sequel a “tangled and rotten mess.”

Audiences were more kind, and gave the film a “B” CinemaScore.

Elsewhere at the box office, Wonka earned $17.7 million in its second weekend to finish in second place. Worldwide, the Warner Bros. release has earned $254.9 million since it debuted, according to Comscore.

Animated family film Migration opened in third place with $12.3 million.

Newcomer Anyone But You debuted in fourth place with $6.2 million, followed by Indian Telugu-language epic Salaar Part 1 – Ceasefire, which opened in fifth place with $5.5 million from just 802 theaters.