‘Aquaman’ Is the Big Finale in a Strong Year for the Box Office | Modern Society of USA

‘Aquaman’ Is the Big Finale in a Strong Year for the Box Office

‘Aquaman’ Is the Big Finale in a Strong Year for the Box Office

LOS ANGELES — Fresh superheroes — Aquaman, Black Panther, Venom, the Wasp — and new twists on classic big-screen formulas delivered a box-office comeback for Hollywood in 2018. Ticket sales in the United States and Canada will total roughly $11.8 billion for the year, analysts say — a 6 percent increase from 2017.

The upsurge has not (only) come as a result of higher ticket prices, the usual way that theater operators prop up revenue. But attendance has also increased. For the year to date, attendance already stands at about 1.25 billion, up from 1.23 billion for all of 2017. “And we still have a huge Christmas week ahead of us,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Comscore, which compiles box-office data.

Hollywood had a terrible 2017, when attendance fell to a two-decade low. Some box-office watchers concluded that the increasing popularity of streaming services were keeping people at home.

But this year? Netflix appears to be less a worry.

“The narrative that streaming is killing theatrical is really overused and misleading,” said Phil Contrino, the director of media and research for the National Association of Theater Owners. “The entertainment industry isn’t a zero-sum game. People who consume a lot of content do so across multiple platforms, and when there are really strong movies in theaters they will show up.”

Contrino added: “Hit movies should be talked about as part of the normal cycle, but they are too often referred to as a breath of fresh air for an industry that’s falsely labeled dying. It’s laughable that one bad weekend, month, or season spurs doomsday talk about cinema. That conversation has been happening for decades, and it’s beyond stale at this point.”

Between Friday and Sunday, “Aquaman” (Warner Bros.) arrived to $67.4 million in North American ticket sales, enough for first place and adding a new megawatt superhero, played by Jason Momoa, to the studio canon. Sneak-peek screenings added $4.7 million.

[Read our critic’s review of “Aquaman.”]

Critics gave the PG-13 fantasy mixed reviews, but ticket buyers gave it an A-minus grade in CinemaScore exit polls — evidence that Warner’s effort to make its DC Comics-based superhero movies more consistently accessible and distinctive is paying off. The studio spent an estimated $350 million on production and marketing for “Aquaman,” which also stars Amber Heard and was directed by James Wan.

Overseas, “Aquaman” has collected an additional $410.7 million since rolling out in China on Dec. 7.

Another film backed by a pervasive advertising campaign, “Mary Poppins Returns” (Disney) arrived to about $22.2 million in weekend ticket sales, for a soft domestic total of $31 million since arriving on Wednesday. Disney spent at least $250 million to make and market “Mary Poppins Returns,” a musical sequel starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda and directed by Rob Marshall.

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