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story.lead_photo.caption Kaan Gulder stars as the 9-year-old Arthur in Warner Bros.’ action adventure Aquaman. It came in first at last weekend’s box office and made about $67.4 million.

LOS ANGELES -- In a weekend with five new wide releases, a North American box office record was expected to be set that would surpass 2016's $11.4 billion by a hair. This year's box office stood at $11.4 billion through Sunday, a turnaround from 2017's $10.6 billion grosses.

In first place, Warner Bros.' Aquaman opened with $67.4 million, for a cumulative $72.1 million, which includes tickets sold in special opening and preview events, according to figures from measurement firm Comscore.

The $200 million superhero movie, starring Game of Thrones alumni Jason Momoa in the titular role, opened in range of analysts' predictions of $65 million to $70 million over the weekend. Globally, the picture is No. 1 for the third week straight and crossed the $400 million mark internationally, earning $91.3 million over the weekend for a global cumulative of $482.8 million. It earned an A-minus on CinemaScore and a 64 percent fresh rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.

At No. 2, Disney's Mary Poppins Returns earned $22.2 million in its opening weekend and $31 million since its debut Dec. 19, well below analysts' five-day predictions of $55 million and even below the studio's more conservative estimate of $35 million.

The PG-rated follow-up to the studio's classic 1964 musical stars Emily Blunt as the British nanny made famous by Julie Andrews. It earned an A-minus rating on CinemaScore and a 77 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

In partial release overseas, the PG-rated film generated an additional $20.3 million.

Poppins still narrowly edged Bumblebee, which opened with $21 million. That, too, is a soft beginning for a film that cost about $135 million to make after tax credits. It's also far off the pace of the other Transformers films, the last of which (Transformers: The Last Knight) debuted with $44.7 million in summer 2017.

But Bumblebee, directed by Travis Knight and starring Hailee Steinfeld, has something the Michael Bay films never had: good reviews. Bumblebee was the weekend's most acclaimed new wide release with a 94 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences also gave it an A-minus CinemaScore.

"The pre-Christmas preoccupation for moviegoers affected everyone. All movies were impacted slightly by that," said Kyle Davies, head of distribution for Paramount. "It doesn't concern me. We played really well with great reactions. The game plan has always been that we're now starting that play period where people go multiple times over the next few weeks, and that's the whole point."

In fourth place, Columbia's Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse added $16.7 million in its second weekend, a 53 percent drop, for a cumulative $64.8 million.

Rounding out the top five, Warner Bros.' The Mule, also in its second weekend, added $9.3 million for a cumulative $35 million.

Another debut, STX Entertainment's Second Act, landed at No. 7 with $6.5 million, below analyst predictions of $8 million. Starring Jennifer Lopez as a fortysomething looking for a career boost, the $16 million picture received mixed reviews, with a B-plus CinemaScore and a 41 percent rotten on Rotten Tomatoes.

In limited release, Annapurna Picture's If Beale Street Could Talk, now in its second weekend, earned $114,902 in five theaters, a per-screen average of $22,980 and a cumulative $428,000.

Fox Searchlight expanded The Favourite into an additional 349 locations in its fifth weekend (for a total of 790) and earned $2 million, for a cumulative $10.1 million.

Focus Features' Mary Queen of Scots, in its third weekend, added 729 locations (for a total of 795), earning $2.2 million, for a cumulative $3.5 million.

On Tuesday, Columbia Pictures opened the comedy Holmes and Watson, and Annapurna premiered the drama Vice. Annapurna also released the crime thriller Destroyer and Focus Features premiered the drama On the Basis of Sex in limited release.

Other new releases included Robert Zemeckis' Welcome to Marwen (Universal), a dismally reviewed comedic drama starring Steve Carell as an artist who copes with trauma by creating an imaginary world populated by dolls. The movie, based on a 2010 documentary, produced in partnership with DreamWorks Pictures for about $40 million, not including marketing, was dead on arrival: Ticket sales totaled $2.4 million, the worst result for a wide-release studio movie this year.

"The weekend before Christmas can be sluggish," said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at comScore, which compiles box office data. "... As people travel or focus on holiday preparations. But the coming days -- now through the end of the year -- traditionally represent the busiest ticket-selling period of the year, which is why studios flood theaters with new movies."

MovieStyle on 12/28/2018

Print Headline: Aquaman swims to top; Poppins flies under radar

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