Ralph tops the box office again and Aquaman is a hit in China

2018-12-10 21:00
Ralph, voiced by John C. Reilly and Vanellope von

New York — In the calm before the Christmas storm at the box office, Ralph Breaks the Internet remained No. 1 for the third straight week, while the upcoming DC Comics superhero film Aquaman arrived with a cannonball-sized splash in Chinese theatres.

For the second week in a row, no new wide releases opened in North American theatres, allowing Disney's animated sequel to again lead domestic ticket sales with $16.1m, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The top six films at the box office were all unchanged. Universal's The Grinch, still a major draw in its fifth weekend, trailed in second with $15.2m.

But the weekend's biggest new arrival was in China, where Warner Bros.' Aquaman debuted with $93.6m in ticket sales. That marked a new opening-weekend record for both Warner Bros. and DC in China. Considering the checkered recent history of DC films (Justice League, Suicide Squad), the big launch in China was a promising sign for the spinoff starring Jason Momoa.

Aquaman will expand to 40 international countries next week and arrive in North American and South Africa theatres on 21 December.

Aquaman wasn't the only big-budget holiday season release receiving a lift this week. Paramount's Transformers prequel Bumblebee played a one-night sneak preview in 326 theatres nationwide ahead of its 21 December release.

Paramount declined to share ticket figures but domestic distribution chief Kyle Davies said theatres were mostly sold out. Perhaps more importantly, the film directed by Travis Knight and starring Hailee Steinfeld aided its word of mouth with largely glowing reviews — a rarity for the Transformers franchise.

Disney's Mary Poppins Returns, due out 19 December in the US and 28 December in SA, also helped its cause with four Golden Globe nominations Thursday, including best picture, comedy or musical, and acting nods for Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The feel-good interracial road trip period tale Green Book fared even better at the Globes (five nominations, including best picture, comedy or musical, and acting nods for Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen) and had good results at the box office to show for it. It has grossed $20m in total.

Yorgos Lanthimos' comic period drama The Favourite continued to pick up steam. The acclaimed Fox Searchlight release, starring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, expanded into 91 theatres over the weekend to gross $1.4m ($15 000 per theatre).

A more traditional royal drama, Mary Queen of Scots, also opened strongly in limited release. The Focus Features title, starring Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart and Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I, debuted in four theatres with a robust $50 045 per-theatre average. Lis Bunnell, president of distribution for Focus, said the film's modern spin "made it resonate with audiences in a powerful way paralleling so much of what is still going on today for women."

Also opening in limited release were Ben is Back, the family addiction drama with Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges (a $20 243 per-theatre average in four theatres), and the caustic pop music critique Vox Lux, with Natalie Portman (a $27 000 per-theatre average in six theatres).

Next weekend, the box office is expected to be significantly busier with the release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Once Upon a Deadpool and Clint Eastwood's The Mule and Mortal Engines.

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