In the calm before the Christmas storm at the box office, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” remained No. 1 for the third straight week, while the upcoming DC Comics superhero film “Aquaman” arrived with a cannonball-sized splash in Chinese theaters.
For the second week in a row, no new wide releases opened in North American theaters, allowing Disney’s animated sequel to again lead domestic ticket sales with $16.1 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The top six films at the box office were all unchanged. Universal’s “The Grinch,” still a major draw in its fifth weekend, trailed in second with $15.2 million.
But the weekend’s biggest new arrival was in China, where Warner Bros.’ “Aquaman” debuted with $93.6 million in ticket sales. That marked a new opening-weekend record for both Warner Bros. and DC in China. Considering the checkered recent history of DC films (“Justice League,” ‘‘Suicide Squad”), the big launch in China was a promising sign for the spinoff starring Jason Momoa.
“Adding to the success of ‘Wonder Woman,’ this is a really solid performance and portends big numbers for North America in two weeks when it opens,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. “This is a movie, along with ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ and ‘Bumblebee’ and other movies, that’s going to give December that boost that a ‘Star Wars’ movie would give us.”
“Aquaman” will expand to 40 international countries next week and arrive in North American theaters Dec. 21.
“Aquaman” wasn’t the only big-budget holiday season release receiving a lift this week. Paramount’s “Transformers” prequel “Bumblebee” played a one-night sneak preview in 326 theaters nationwide ahead of its Dec. 21 release.