Forget riding the holiday wave, Aquaman 2, also known as Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, plopped right into the box office shallows this Christmas weekend. Instead of making a big splash, the superhero sequel sputtered its way to a disappointing $40 million debut over the four-day holiday frame.
That’s a far cry from the expectations for a movie with a big star like Jason Momoa, tons of underwater CGI, and a hefty $205 million price tag. Experts were hoping for at least double that amount, and some even whispered about Aquaman 2 breaking box office records. Instead, it ended up barely beating out animated newcomer Migration and a couple of other movies you probably haven’t heard of.
So, what went wrong? Well, a few things seem to be at play. First, some folks just weren’t that excited about another Aquaman movie. The first one did great back in 2018, but that was five years ago, and superhero fatigue (people getting tired of seeing the same capes and tights all the time) might be setting in. Plus, early reviews for Aquaman 2 haven’t been exactly glowing, with some critics calling it “more of the same” and “a watery mess.”
Then there’s the whole Christmas competition thing. People were busy with family, friends, and mountains of presents, and maybe going to the movies just wasn’t at the top of their to-do list. Sure, some folks probably braved the crowds to see Aquaman, but not enough to give it the blockbuster boost it needed.
This disappointing debut throws a bit of a wrench in the plans for the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), the world where Aquaman and other superheroes like Batman and Wonder Woman play. 2023 hasn’t been kind to the DCEU, with all four of their movies this year (including The Flash and Shazam! Fury of the Gods) underperforming at the box office. Could this be a sign that people are losing interest in the DCEU’s brand of superhero stories?
It’s too early to say for sure. Maybe Aquaman 2 will pick up steam over the next few weeks, especially if word-of-mouth buzz improves. But for now, it’s definitely not the holiday win Warner Bros. and DC were hoping for.