Aquaman commands more than just the denizens of Earth’s oceans. He’s also got a vise-like hold on the box office, at least outside the United States.
The latest entry in the DC Extended Universe opened in U.S. theaters on Friday with an impressive $332.1 million already banked. That’s after almost three weeks in theaters in a number of overseas markets — including the historically Hollywood-friendly China.
That’s where Aquaman has made the biggest splash so far. As of Dec. 16, the movie’s Chinese box office total had reached $189 million, according to Box Office Mojo. For comparison: that’s already more than Justice League, the 2017 tentpole DCEU release from Warner Bros., managed to pick up in China during its entire theatrical run there ($106.1 million).
It amounts to a record-breaking performance in the Asian market. Aquaman‘s current total has already established it as the fourth highest-grossing superhero movie to date in China and the second highest-grossing WB movie in China, according to an earlier report from Entertainment Weekly.
What could explain the success? Writing for Mashable, critic Angie Han noted that while the movie feels overly long, its unhinged embrace of weirdness helps to keep you riveted.
“Like its hero, the film, directed by James Wan, is sincere without being self-serious, and funny without tipping over into self-parody,” Han wrote. “It also shares his roll-with-the-punches attitude, which is probably the only way to serve up visions like a seahorse-riding battalion without eliciting a fatal level of skepticism.”
It remains to be seen how Aquaman lands with U.S. audiences. The movie opened on Friday, Dec. 21, in the same week as big-budget spectacles from Disney (Mary Poppins Returns) and Paramount (Bumblebee) — and one week after a chart-topping performance from Sony newcomer Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Even in the face of all this hefty competition, Aquaman is virtually assured of a #1 opening weekend finish in the U.S. market. Current estimates point to an expected $70 million to $80 million three-day weekend, a number that could go up to $110 million or more when you factor in the Monday/Tuesday Christmas holiday.