The Christmas movie season can be a hectic one, as the final blockbusters of the year compete for our hard-earned dollars. This is the first year since 2015 when a STAR WARS movie doesn’t have a firm place in the month, leaving the crown open for heavy-hitters like AQUAMAN, BUMBLEBEE and MARY POPPINS RETURNS. The director of the former, James Wan, is confident in his superhero epic, but recently revealed he is a tad worried about going up against the likes the House of Mouse’s live-action musical and adorable yellow robots.
Wan was interviewed for EW as part of the immense coverage for AQUAMAN going around and was asked about having to go against some of the other big flicks, which also includes SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE, HOLMES AND WATSON and MORTAL ENGINES – all opening within a period of seven days. Understandably, the director is a bit nervous about all the competition, but he pointed to a comforting stat to prove why there’s more than enough love (and dough) to go around.
“For sure, I think I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried. 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.”
The man has a point. Last year’s STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI easily won the month, making over $200 million opening weekend and everything else was expected to fall by the wayside. However, movies like JUMANJI and even THE GREATEST SHOWMAN were able to find their audiences and make some serious change. The former topped at over $400 million domestically and almost $1 billion domestically, making it one of Sony’s biggest hits ever. The latter made about $175 million domestically, out-grossing other recent, live-action musicals like LES MISERABLES, INTO THE WOODS and LA LA LAND.
Here’s one thing that also serves in AQUAMAN’s favor: The movie is apparently really f**king good. Critics who have already seen the movie (including our own Paul Shirey and Jimmy O) have showered it in praise as one of the most authentic comic book movies ever, one that sports jaw-dropping visuals and an abundance of thrills. This should be enough to lure people (fish puns) to the theaters looking for a nigh-guaranteed good time (POPPINS has also been getting great marks, though). Still, even if some may doubt if the movie can perform after the disappointing JUSTICE LEAGUE last year, Wan is okay with that.
“I don’t mind being the underdog. Aquaman has always been the underdog and I’m happy to continue that narrative.”
Pre-sales are already tracking the movie for a near-$100 million opening, a total it’s likely to come closer to after the review embargo drops early next week. Good reviews should see those estimates continue to rise (see BLACK PANTHER), and should people fall in love with the underwater hero (Jason Momoa), then the movie could easily win the week, and then the month.
AQUAMAN is in theaters December 21.