Warner Bros.’ latest DC Films entry, the James Wan-directed Aquaman, earned the studio’s biggest-ever opening day in China with RMB 169 million ($24.6m), Variety reports.
Aquaman is making such a splash in the Middle Kingdom it’s projected to earn upwards of $80 million its opening weekend, bypassing 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ($55m) and 2017’s Wonder Woman ($37.7m).
Such numbers give Aquaman the chance to become the highest-grossing DC film in China, where Batman v Superman took in $95m, Wonder Woman lassoed $90m, and 2013’s DCEU-launcher Man of Steel punched up $63m.
Its two-weeks-early release in China comes as the studio puts some space between its incoming competition, namely animated Illumination hit The Grinch, releasing in China December 14, and Sony Pictures Animation’s critical smash hit Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, opening Dec. 21, one week after it swings into domestic theaters — the same date Aquaman swims into U.S. theaters.
The crowded holiday season will see Jason Momoa’s aquatic superhero compete against Spider-Man and Transformers spinoff Bumblebee, also out Dec. 21, as well as Disney’s Emily Blunt-led family-friendly musical Mary Poppins Returns, out Dec. 19.
Long-range tracking published in October pegged Aquaman for an estimated $40-$60m opening weekend at the domestic box office; numbers that should rise following Aquaman’s early positive buzz.
Aquaman garnered a similar response in China, where users on Weibo — China’s Twitter — praised the blockbuster for its awe-inspiring visuals and Wan’s technical prowess behind the camera.
“I felt like a moviegoer in the 70s watching Star Wars for the first time,” wrote one Weibo user.
Wrote another user in a popular review, “He’s a technical madman. After [Steven] Spielberg, [George] Lucas and [James] Cameron… from now on, among the world’s top technical directors, there is a Chinese one – James Wan!!!”
“Years ago, how could we have imagined that the most explosive DC movie would be Aquaman?” wrote one Weibo commenter. “I just wanted to stay in my seat and watch the film infinite times! After exams I’ll definitely have to come back to get my fill and break my record of seven viewings.”
Starring 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 opens Dec. 21.