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Wonka’s Sweet Victory: Outshining ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ in the Ultimate 2023 Box Office Face-Off

Wonka and Aquaman
Wonka and Aquaman (Credits: Vanity Fair)

At the box office, “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” is rapidly losing money. The $205 million film, which is billed as the holiday blockbuster and stars Jason Momoa as the King of Atlantis, has not been able to evoke the same level of excitement as its 2018 predecessor, the megahit “Aquaman.” This is the fourth consecutive superhero film to fail for Warner Bros. and DC Studios in 2023, after the underwhelming releases of “The Flash,” “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” and “Blue Beetle.”

“Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” earned a respectable $19.5 million over the weekend and an expected $26 million by New Year’s Day, placing it in second place in its second week of release. The film has made $84 million domestically and $258 million worldwide after two weeks of release, which is similar to other comic book flops like “The Flash,” “The Marvels,” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.”

A fantasy musical starring Timothée Chalamet as Willy Wonka, “Wonka” recovered the number one place with $23.9 million over the weekend and a projected $31 million by New Year’s Day. Meanwhile, viewers choose to ring in 2024 with the film. With $142 million in domestic sales and $386.9 million globally, “Wonka” has outperformed its $100 million production budget at the box office.

Wonka and Aquaman Face-Off

Wonka and Aquaman Face-Off (Credits: Screenrant)

Comscore reports that even though there wasn’t a billion-dollar blockbuster to look forward to this Christmas season, overall domestic grosses for 2023 topped $9 billion. After the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the movie theater sector, this year has brought in more money than both 2022 and 2021 combined—$7.46 billion and $4.56 billion, respectively. But it’s not as high as it was before the epidemic when the box office easily made between $10 and $11 billion a year.

Paul Dergarabedian, a Comscore analyst, credits the industry’s success to the sheer number of movies that are released. The animated comedy “Migration” from Universal and Illumination landed in third place with a weekend total of $17.2 million and an expected $22.3 million by New Year’s Day. The movie, which cost $70 million and starred Elizabeth Banks, Awkwafina, and Kumail Nanjiani in voice roles, has made $100 million worldwide and $58.8 million in North America.

With $13 million over the weekend and an expected $17 million during the holiday, “The Color Purple” took fourth place. Directed by Blitz Bazawule, the acclaimed book-turned-movie-turned-Broadway-musical has made $50 million in its opening week, surpassing recent stage-to-screen adaptations such as “West Side Story,” “In the Heights,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” and “Cats.” Nevertheless, with a $100 million budget, the movie needs to continue to make money into the new year.

Sony’s R-rated comedy “Anyone but You” rounded out the top five, earning $9 million over the weekend and $11.5 million by New Year’s Day. After two weeks of release, the $25 million film, starring Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell, has accumulated $27.5 million.

In the sixth position, “The Boys in the Boat,” directed by George Clooney, earned $8.3 million over the weekend and an estimated $11 million through Monday. The PG-13 film tells the true story of the University of Washington rowing team at the 1936 Olympic games, starring Joel Edgerton, and has grossed $24.6 million so far, with positive audience reception.

“The Iron Claw,” an A24 sports thriller that debuted around Christmas, brought in $5 million over the course of the weekend and an anticipated $6.9 million by Monday. After ten days on the big screen, the movie, which stars Zac Efron and Jeremy Allen White as members of the Von Erich family, a professional wrestling dynasty with a tragic past, has made $18 million, exceeding its $16 million budget.

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