“Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” tanked at the box office this weekend, debuting at $28 million—about $9 million less than projected ticket sales—and becoming the latest superhero film this year to bomb in a trend the industry is referring to as “superhero fatigue.”

Key Facts

Warner Bros. and DC Studios’ “Aquaman” sequel, starring Jason Momoa and costing $205 million, was one of the worst-performing superhero films of the year, falling far short of the $67.8 million debut of the first Aquaman installment in 2018 and ranking as the fourth worst-performing DC Extended Universe film debut of all time.

Despite its underperformance, “Aquaman 2” topped the three other movie debuts this weekend: Universal and Illumination’s “Migration” ($12.3 million), Sony Pictures’ “Anyone but You” ($9 million), and A24’s “The Iron Claw” ($7.5 million), but was still among the worst superhero debuts of the year, Variety reported.

“Aquaman 2” was among four DC Studios films to disappoint at the box office this year, joinging “The Flash,” which brought in $55.1 million, about $12 million less than expected; “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” which opened to $30.5 million, significantly lower than the $53.5 million domestic opening of the first “Shazam!”; and “Blue Beetle,” which opened to $25 million, less than the $25 million to $32 million projections.

Adding to superhero movies’ dismal performances in 2023, Disney’s “The Marvels,” sequel to “Captain Marvel,” was the lowest-earning installment ever of Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, debuting in November at $47 million, less than a third of what “Captain Marvel” made in its opening weekend in 2019 and significantly below domestic projections of $75 million to $80 million, according to CNBC.

Big Number

$357 million. That’s the biggest box office opening ever for a superhero movie, brought in by “Avengers: Endgame,” in 2019.

What To Watch For

December movie releases are known to start slow and pick up steam through the New Year. Despite the first “Aquaman”installment’s lackluster opening, it went on to gross $335 million in North America and $1.15 billion globally. This holiday season is expected to be particularly slow compared to past years, however, in the absence of any potential mega blockbusters on the horizon.

Key Background

“Aquaman 2”is expected to be the final Aquamaninstallment as DC Studios’ new co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran have mapped out a reboot for the studio’s future, which has posted a string of disappointing years. Since 2018, just one film, “Black Adam” ($67 million) in 2022, has debuted with more than $60 million in ticket sales, according to Comscore. That’s compared to megahits such as “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice($166 million) and “Suicide Squad” ($133.6 million), both in 2016. “Aquaman 2”is expected to bring in about $40 million by the end of the four-day Christmas weekend.


DC Studios has suffered a wave of negative press surrounding some of its lead actors including Momoa. Court papers from “Aquaman”actress Amber Heard’s high-profile divorce with Johnny Depp revealed in October that Heard allegedly told her therapist Momoa was drunk on set and wanted to have her fired. A DC spokesperson denied Momoa showed up drunk to work and said he “conducted himself in a professional manner at all times on the set” in a statement to Variety.

 “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” was the fourth worst-performing DC Extended Universe debut of all time.  Read More