'Aquaman' Ready to Threepeat Over First Weekend in 2019

by Brad Brevet

January 3, 2019

SATURDAY AM UPDATE: WB's Aquaman is on its way to a third straight weekend in the #1 spot at the top of the box office after pulling in an estimated $9.3 million on Friday, heading toward a three-day performance around $30 million, signaling a strong, -41% drop from last weekend and pushing the film's domestic cume toward $260 million.

Aquaman also added another $12.4 million internationally on Friday, pushing the film's international cume to $649.3 million, surpassing The Dark Knight Rises as the highest grossing DC film ever internationally for a global cume that currently totals $887.6 million.

As for the weekend's newcomer, Sony's horror/thriller Escape Room is continuing the trend of strong performing genre films to kick off the new year. The film brought in an estimated $7.7 million on Friday (including $2.3m from Thursday night previews. Expectations right now are for a three-day performance around $17+ million. The film received a "B" CinemaScore from opening day audiences.

You can check out all of the Friday estimates right here and we'll be back tomorrow morning with a complete look at the weekend.

FRIDAY AM UPDATE: Sony's horror/thriller Escape Room brought in an impressive $2.345 million from Thursday previews last night with showings beginning at 4PM in 2,386 locations. While the studio is still projecting a $10 million performance this weekend this more than doubles the $1 million in previews Slender Man brought in from previews before a $11.37 million opening and almost five times the preview gross for The Forest, which delivered $515k from previews in January 2016 ahead of a $12.7 million debut. At this point we'd be surprised if Escape Room fell short of that gross by the end of the weekend.

We'll take a closer look at things tomorrow morning once Friday estimates come in. For now you can check out our weekend preview below.

WEEKEND PREVIEW: The new year gets underway this weekend with plenty of promise, not to mention a bit of pressure following 2018's record performance as the highest grossing year at the domestic box office ever. We're still putting the final touches on 2018's numbers, but grosses currently show the year topping $11.86 billion at the domestic box office, nearly $500 million more than the previous record set in 2016. As for 2019, it will get started with Sony's horror/thriller Escape Room, which hopes to secure a slot in the top five as most of the attention this weekend will continue to focus on the holdovers with WB's Aquaman expected to finish #1 for its third straight weekend.

Already having grossed over $846 million worldwide, Aquaman heads into the weekend just behind Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ($873.6m) in terms of worldwide grosses and will become the largest worldwide hit among the six films in the DC Extended Universe by the end of the weekend. To that point, the film will have surpassed Justice League's entire domestic run after just 17 days come the end of this weekend as we're looking for the film to add another $26 million, pushing its domestic total over $250 million.

Looking at a second place finish for the second weekend in row is Disney's Mary Poppins Returns, which saw a solid, +20.5% bump in its second weekend last week, which makes this an important weekend when it comes to seeing just what kind of legs this film has. Last year Fox's The Greatest Showman dipped just -11% in its third weekend in release, albeit after a much different start to its domestic run. That said, on one hand an amazing hold for Poppins this weekend would be right around a -20% dip and a weekend topping $22 million. The worst we see the film doing is a drop around -42% and a $16+ million three-day performance. Unsurprisingly, we're looking at a performance somewhere near the middle, leaning more conservative, and a -36% drop and an $18+ million third weekend. Should that forecast hold, look for Poppins's domestic cume to top $140 million by the end of the weekend.

There could be a bit of a fight for second and third place between Paramount's Bumblebee and Sony Animation's Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse as the two films continue to vie for a similar audience. Right now we're giving a slight, ~$500k edge to Spider-Verse, though Bumblebee is actually gaining a few theaters (+47) as it begins its third week in release. Our forecast has the two films finishing right around $12-13 million for the weekend.

Rounding out the top five is where we expect to find Sony's Escape Room, which is debuting in over 2,700 locations with industry expectations anticipating anything from a $10-13 million opening. Mojo's expectations are similarly aligned though leaning more toward an $11-12 million debut, comparable to titles such as Sony's Slender Man and STX's January 2016 release of The Boy, both of which Escape Room is narrowly outpacing based on IMDb page views over the two weeks leading up to release. The first weekend of each year has become prime positioning for horror titles and just last year Insidious: The Last Key debuted with over $29.5 million. Perhaps Escape Room will find some way to over perform and move into third place, but right now we're banking on a fifth place showing.

A few other titles to keep an eye on this weekend include the expansion of Focus's On the Basis of Sex, which will play in 113 locations this weekend (+80) before going wide in over 2,000 theaters next weekend. Additionally, Annapurna is expanding Barry Jenkins's If Beale Street Could Talk into 335 theaters (+270) with expectations to reach 600 locations in the top 150 markets next weekend, leading to a wide release on January 18 in the top 225 markets.

This weekend's forecast is directly below. This post will be updated on Friday morning with Thursday night preview results followed by Friday estimates on Saturday morning, and a complete weekend recap on Sunday morning.

  • Aquaman (4,184 theaters) - $26.0 M
  • Mary Poppins Returns (4,090 theaters) - $18.0 M
  • Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (3,419 theaters) - $13.0 M
  • Bumblebee (3,597 theaters) - $12.5 M
  • Escape Room (2,717 theaters) - $12.0 M
  • The Mule (3,212 theaters) - $8.8 M
  • Second Act (2,523 theaters) - $4.7 M
  • Vice (2,534 theaters) - $4.7 M
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet (2,050 theaters) - $4.6 M
  • Holmes and Watson (2,780 theaters) - $3.8 M

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DAILY: Friday Estimates, 'Glass' #1
WEEKLY: 'The Upside' Tops the Week with $28.3m
DAILY: Thursday 1/17, (42 tracked)
DAILY: Wednesday, 1/16 (34 tracked)
DAILY: Tuesday, 1/15 (34 tracked)
New MPAA Ratings Added
DAILY: Monday, 1/7 (33 tracked)
WEEKEND: Weekend Actuals, 'The Upside' #1