LOS ANGELES (AFP) - New Warner Bros release Aquaman made the biggest waves in North American theatres over the weekend with US$67.4 million (S$92.5 million) in ticket sales, industry tracker Exhibitor Relations estimated on Sunday (Dec 23).
That put it well ahead of two other new holiday-timed releases - Disney's Mary Poppins Returns took in US$22.2 million for the three-day weekend, flying slightly higher than Paramount's Bumblebee at US$21 million.
Together, the three helped boost the year's domestic box-office revenue towards a record US$11.8 billion, Hollywood Reporter said.
Aquaman stars Jason Momoa in a title role infused with new swagger by director James Wan, with Variety calling Momoa's Aquaman "a bare-chested Hawaiian super-stud with long, shaggy surfer hair and all-over tribal tattoos".
The look seems to work: The film has already taken in some US$410 million outside North America.
Mary Poppins, while lacking truly boffo opening numbers, is expected to follow past musicals in enjoying a long box-office run.
The sequel to the 1964 movie stars Emily Blunt as the stern but kind-hearted nanny (Julie Andrews in the original), backed by Lin-Manuel Miranda of "Hamilton" fame. Dick Van Dyke, Mary Poppins' Cockney-accented friend in the original film, makes a cameo.
Bumblebee, a prequel to the Transformers movies, stars Hailee Steinfeld and John Cena. It drew a lofty 94 per cent rating from Rotten Tomatoes as all three of the top grossing new movies earned strong A- ratings from CinemaScores.
In fourth was Sony's Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, taking in US$16.7 million. It has Peter Parker making way for Miles Morales as a black, Latino Spider-Man.
And fifth spot went to The Mule from Warner Bros, at US$9.3 million. Clint Eastwood, who at 88 says this will be his last acting part, directs and takes the lead role as a destitute 90-year-old who turns to transporting cocaine for a Mexican drug cartel.
Rounding out the weekend's top 10 were: Dr Seuss's The Grinch (US$8.2 million), Second Act (US$6.5 million), Ralph Breaks The Internet (US$4.6 million), Welcome To Marwen (US$2.4 million), and Mary Queen Of Scots (US$2.2 million).