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‘Aquaman’ to Conquer Box Office With $70 Million Opening Weekend

Aquaman” is set to conquer the North American box office as it heads for an opening weekend of about $70 million, early estimates showed on Friday.

The three-day figure is at the high end of recent forecasts issued for the pre-Christmas weekend. Friday’s estimates also showed the openings of “Mary Poppins Returns” and “Bumblebee” battling for second in the $20 million range for the three days — both under forecasts. The sophomore fame of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is heading for fourth with about $18 million.

Universal’s seventh weekend of “The Grinch” is eyeing a fifth-place finish with about $10 million, ahead of STXfilms’ launch of Jennifer Lopez’s romantic comedy “Second Act” with around $9 million. “The Grinch” should wind up the weekend with a 45-day total of nearly $255 million domestically — the sixth-highest North American take this year.

Warner Bros.’ “Aquaman” is pegged for a Friday haul of around $28 million, including $13.7 million from three nights of previews. The tentpole has already generated $332 million from international markets, including $209 million in China in the two weeks before its U.S. launch. Reviews for the Jason Momoa vehicle have been decent, with a current 64% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

The latest addition to the DC Extended Universe is arriving in 4,150 domestic locations, with studio expectations of about $67 million for the Friday-Sunday period, and $120 million for the five days from Friday through Christmas.

“Aquaman” carries a hefty $200 million production price tag. It’s the first Warner Bros. standalone DC title since “Wonder Woman,” which launched to a massive $103 million last year on its way to a $412 million domestic gross.

Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns,” the live-action sequel to the 1964 hit, stars Emily Blunt as the iconic British nanny. It grossed $8.8 million at 4,090 North American sites on Wednesday and Thursday. Pre-weekend forecasts predicted at least $35 million domestically in its first five days. Rob Marshall directed “Mary Poppins Returns,” which cost $130 million before a global marketing push.

Bumblebee,” the sixth entry in Paramount’s “Transformers” franchise, reeled in $2.9 million from two nights of previews. Hailee Steinfeld stars in a prequel to the original “Transformers.” The pic, which is opening at 3,550 sites, is expected to earn about $30 million in its first three days. The film has generated surprisingly strong critical support, with a 94% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Second Act” debuted with a moderate $515,000 on Thursday night and expanded to 2,607 locations on Friday. Lopez portrays a business consultant with a fake resume who tries to fulfill her career ambitions. It’s Lopez’s first live-action film since she teamed with Viola Davis in 2015’s “Lila & Eve.” Milo Ventimiglia, Vanessa Hudgens, Leah Remini, Annaleigh Ashford, Dan Bucatinsky, Freddie Stroma, and Treat Williams also topline “Second Act.”

Universal-DreamWorks Pictures’ “Welcome to Marwen” is heading for a quiet $2.5 million after it made $190,000 in previews from 1,600 theaters on Thursday night and widened to 1,900 sites on Friday. The Steve Carell drama, which has opened with mostly negative reviews, appears headed for box office oblivion after debuting well under forecasts.

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