Aquaman 2: Boxoffice Pro Posts its First Long-Range Forecast for the Film’s Domestic Gross

Nader Elhefnawy
3 min readNov 24, 2023

Considering Aquaman 2 (aka Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom) I did wonder if the movie would not defy the trend of franchise failure. After all, the first Aquaman film was relatively well-received, this only the second film in the sequence (in contrast with characters of which the public had had time to grow more weary), and the trailer looked very credible (certainly a lot more exciting than the one for Captain Marvel 2). Still, the pattern of failure has been fairly consistent (underlined even by the only comparative success of Guardians of the Galaxy 3), the always more vulnerable DC Extended Universe has done very badly indeed this year (with Shazam 2, Blue Beetle and of course The Flash), while the fact that the DCEU is not so much building to a triumphant climax as being handled like a canceled TV show “burning off” its last unaired episodes. The result is that I tried not to be overly negative, but all the same, taking up the subject back in July it seemed to me necessary to allow for a scenario of collapse at the box office in which the film fell short of not just the billion-dollar barrier the first such movie broke, but $400 million globally.

Now Boxoffice Pro (just as it did with Captain Marvel 2 back in October) is affirming the anticipation of collapse with the publication of its first tracking data-based long-range forecast for the film, specifically an opening weekend take in the range of $32-$42 million (versus The Flash’s $55 million and Captain Marvel 2’s $47 million), and a domestic total range of $105-$168 million (such that at the low end it could take in less than The Flash). Compared with the first film the total gross would be about 60 to 75 percent less than the movie made in real terms ($335 million in 2018–2019, equaling $410 million in today’s terms), a drop comparable to what Captain Marvel 2 suffered in comparison with the first Captain Marvel film.

Such figures make a very considerable worldwide multiplier necessary to turn a domestic performance like this one into a respectable, break even-approaching earner, and alas, in contrast with that other series that Aquaman star Jason Momoa appeared in this year, Fast and Furious, this series has little such hope. Fast X made four times its domestic gross internationally ($559 million to its $146 million in North America) — but superhero movies, a particularly American passion, tend not to do so well internationally, with the first Aquaman, which made about two-and-a-half times what it did domestically abroad, as good as it gets. Moreover, one should note that this was overwhelmingly due to a very strong response from China, which is very unlikely to be forthcoming this time given the reception of more recent American films there. The result is that Aquaman 2 would be doing well to make three times its domestic gross globally, which in even the most positive current scenario detailed by Boxoffice Pro would leave it a half billion at best, as much worse becomes imaginable (such that it could end up with a lot less than $400 million).

Of course, there is still a month to go before that movie actually hits theaters — but as The Flash and Captain Marvel 2 both showed, the movie’s prospects could decay rather than improve, while, even if the faintness of the competition this year should seem a point in the movie’s favor, it by no means guarantees its “cleaning up.” The way the box office works these days the lack of appetizing alternatives on the menu does not mean that others will order up this one — and so for now the safest guess would seem to be the DCEU’s last movie concluding the franchise’s run with a whimper rather than a roar of triumph, with all that implies for the fantasy of a mighty new DCEU finally satisfying the WBD’s longstanding Marvel envy, to say nothing of the superhero film, the franchise film, the blockbuster as we know it more broadly and the fate of a Hollywood which, battered by events beyond its control (like the pandemic, and the geopolitical turn hurting it in China) has also inflicted plenty of wounds on itself — while showing not the least sign of behaving more intelligently in the years ahead.

Originally published at https://raritania.blogspot.com.

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Nader Elhefnawy

Nader Elhefnawy is the author of the thriller The Shadows of Olympus. Besides Medium, you can find him online at his personal blog, Raritania.