Both Aquaman and Bumblebee are currently projected to have the worst opening weekends in their respective franchises when they premiere in December. This is the first holiday season since 2014 without a new Star Wars movie on the scene, and other studios are looking to take advantage of the lucrative moviegoing period. Among the many titles aiming to make a splash over Christmas are Aquaman and Bumblebee, the latest installments in series that are in definite need of a hit.
Last year, the DC Extended Universe and the live-action Transformers franchise experienced all-time lows with the releases of Justice League ($229 million total domestically) and The Last Knight ($130.1 million domestic). Obviously, Warner Bros. and Paramount would like to see their tentpoles bounce back at the end of 2018 and have high hopes for the upcoming releases. Unfortunately, there's only so much money to go around during busy Decembers, and it looks like the similar genre movies are going to cannibalize each other at the box office.
According to Box Office Pro, long-range estimates for Aquaman and Bumblebee are now in. The former is expected to earn between $40-60 million over its first three days, while the latter is projected for $15-25 million. These would be the lowest-grossing opening weekends for the two franchise, failing to top the aforementioned Justice League ($93.8 million) and The Last Knight ($44.6 million). Aquaman and Bumblebee both debut on December 21, sandwiched between other high-profile offerings like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Mary Poppins Returns.
There's no denying these starts are unideal, but they may not be the disaster they look like on-paper. For starters, there's still plenty of time between now and December, so projections could trend upwards when the release date gets closer. Additionally, WB and Paramount were smart about keeping costs down in regards to production budgets. Aquaman's price tag is in the ballpark of $160 million, while Bumblebee's is $102 million. That means they don't necessarily have to break the bank in order to turn a profit, and will likely end up in the black as long as the international numbers are strong. Of course, the studios would like to see better showings in North America, but it's possible Aquaman and Bumblebee can ultimately go down as successes.
Having said that, these early estimates illustrate poor management by WB and Paramount. There's seemingly a would-be blockbuster released every week, but studios try to have some breathing room between their big movie and another company's. When two or more movies targeting the same demographic come out in the same weekend, it's harder for one to break out, and not every fan is going to have time to check out both in theaters over the holidays. It'll be interesting to see what happens, but if Aquaman and Bumblebee end up disappointing commercially, the studios will only have themselves to blame.
Source: Box Office Pro
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Bumblebee (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018