LOS ANGELES (REUTERS/VARIETY.COM) - Aquaman easily retained its reign in North America for the second weekend in a row, dominating box office charts with US$51.5 million (S$70.37 million) from 4,125 locations.
That marks a decline of just 24 per cent from its opening weekend of US$72 million and brings the DC superhero tentpole past US$188 million in the states. Since it's a busy time of year for moviegoing, Aquaman will likely cross US$200 million by New Year's and could become Warner Bros.' biggest film of 2018. Overseas, the movie, directed by James Wan and starring Jason Momoa, has surpassed US$560 million.
There was enough holiday cheer at multiplexes to spread the wealth. Disney's Mary Poppins Returns held the No. 2 spot with US$28 million, a solid uptick of 28 per cent to take ticket sales just shy of US$100 million. Globally, the musical has amassed US$173 million.
Paramount's Bumblebee landed in third place again, picking up US$21 million from 3,550 venues, a small 3 per cent drop. The Transformers origin story with Hailee Steinfeld has made US$67 million through Sunday.
Meanwhile, a pair of Christmas Day releases - Vice and Holmes and Watson - are neck in neck for sixth place. The former, Adam McKay's Dick Cheney biopic, generated US$7.8 million for a domestic haul of US$17.7 million. That's a middling result for a movie that cost Annapurna US$60 million to produce before accounting for marketing costs.
The latter, Holmes and Watson, a comedy starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, brought in US$7.3 million during the three-day stretch and US$19.8 million since Tuesday. The good news, for the comedy at least, is its Rotten Tomatoes score has jumped from 0 per cent to 9 per cent. The bad news is Columbia Pictures shelled out US$42 million to make the absurd take on Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
Not falling far behind is STX and Jennifer Lopez's Second Act. The romantic comedy saw a gain this weekend, up 11 per cent with US$7.2 million for a domestic cume of US$21.7 million.
DreamWorks and Universal's Welcome to Marwen continues to have a bleak holiday, dropping to No. 14 with US$2.23 million in its second outing. Robert Zemeckis directed the drama starring Steve Carell as a man who attempts to overcome his PTSD. It's made just US$7.7 million, branding it as one of this year's biggest flops.
The movie, based on the 2010 documentary Marwencol, carries a US$40 million price tag and stands to lose the studio over US$45 million when marketing and distribution costs are considered.
A number of holdovers rounded out the top five. Sony's Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse nabbed fourth place, amassing US$18 million in its third week of release. The latest big-screen adaptation of Marvel's web-slinging hero, which has received high praise from critics and fans alike, just crossed the US$100 million mark in North America.
Fifth place went to Warner Bros.' The Mule with US$11.7 million from 2,787 theaters for a domestic tally of US$60 million. Clint Eastwood directed and starred in the drama, which saw a 24 per cent hike this weekend.
At the specialty box office, Participant Media's On the Basis Of Sex pocketed US$690,000 from 33 screens. Felicity Jones portrays a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the biopic, which launched on Christmas Day and has since made US$1.5 million. It secured the best screen-average of the weekend with US$20,877 per venue. The studio plans to expand to 100 theaters next weekend.
"Audiences across the country truly love the movie - exit polls are in the mid-90s - clearly showing the film's sheer entertainment power," said Lisa Bunnell, Focus Features'president of distribution.
"As a woman heading up a studio's distribution team, a part of our industry that has traditionally been filled by men for decades, I can't help but watch this film and know that Ruth's work help make that possible."
Annapurna and Nicole Kidman's Destroyer also debuted on Christmas Day and took in US$58,472 from three locations for a domestic total of US$116,000. It scored the second-biggest screen average of the weekend with US$19,491.
Elsewhere, Sony Pictures Classics' Stan and Ollie, a biographical drama about comedic duo Stan Laurel and Ollie Hardy, brought in US$79,674 million from five screens for an average of US$15,935.
A handful of awards hopefuls got a boost over the holiday frame. Annapurna's If Beale Street Could Talk earned US$759,579 when it added 60 locations. Barry Jenkins wrote and directed the film based on James Baldwin's book, and it's made US$1.9 million in its platform release.
Focus Features' Mary Queen of Scots also saw an increase in ticket sales with US$2.6 million from 841 theaters in its fourth outing for a North American haul of US$9 million.
Another royal costumed drama, The Favourite, brought in US$2.4 million from 809 locations. Yorgos Lanthimos directed the Fox Searchlight film starring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz. It just crossed US$15 million at the domestic box office.
Revenues in North America dropped 5.2 per cent compared to the same weekend in 2017, according to Comscore, though that's because last year benefited from the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Even so, the domestic market is up almost 7 per cent from last year and over 4 per cent from 2016's record bounty. As of this weekend, ticket sales have surpassed US$11.8 billion.