In spite of strong competition from Bumblebee and Mary Poppins Returns on its opening weekend, Aquaman is expected to draw $65 million or more at the domestic box office and over $100 million worldwide.
That $65 million number comes from The Hollywood Reporter, in a profile on Amber Heard (who plays Mera in the film).
The numbers are ever-changing for this and other big-budget blockbusters, and until the weekend has shaken out it is nearly imposible to know how high the ceiling really is.
Good news for Aquaman is that the strong projections were enough to start talks of a sequel from Warner Bros., and it seems to be making headway in the general discourse; it was not that long ago that Wan talked about being an underdog to the Poppins juggernaut.
“For sure, I think I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried,” Wan told EW. “But generally around the holidays, there’s a lot to go around — which was pointed out to us when Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle opened on top of each other. You see how well Jumanji played.”
Wan also doesn't mind being labeled an underdog, and honestly feels it is kind of fitting in regards to the character of Aquaman, who has always had to scrape and claw for respect in the superhero landscape.
“I don’t mind being the underdog,” Wan said. “Aquaman has always been the underdog and I’m happy to continue that narrative.”
Wan's not wrong about the holiday box office. Jumanji opened up right next to Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and yet still cruised to $962 billion at the box office. Meanwhile The Last Jedi made 1.3 billion at the box office, and both happened in the same time frame, so there's more than room for both Aquaman and Mary Poppins Returns to make the money they need plus some.
Aquaman pulling ahead in projections might speak more to the perception that Bumblebee is a family movie, which would compete with Poppins, rather than an action movie that would compete with a superhero tentpole.
Aquaman is directed by James Wan and stars Jason Momoa (Arthur/Aquaman), Amber Heard (Mera), Nicole Kidman (Queen Atlanna), Patrick Wilson (Orm/Ocean Master), Willem Dafoe (Nuidis Vulko), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), Ludi Lin (Murk), Dolph Lundgren (King Nereus), Djimon Hounsou (The Fisherman King), Natalia Safran (Fisherman Queen), and Michael Beach (Jesse Kane).
Aquaman lands in theaters on Friday, Dec. 21