Can ‘Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom’ Break the 2023 Box Office Jinx?

Patrick Wilson stars in "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom"

We are on the cusp of Warner Bros. Discovery’s final installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), with the theatrical release of “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” just five weeks away. The question looms: Can this superhero film break the supposed 2023 box office curse, joining the ranks of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” and “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” as one of the few successes of the year, both commercially and critically?

While the latter two films achieved significant box office success, amassing a combined $1.5 billion, other 2023 superhero releases faced varying degrees of disappointment. “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” “The Flash,” “Blue Beetle,” and “The Marvels” struggled to replicate their predecessors’ triumphs, with a collective gross of $1.13 billion, trailing behind the two standout hits.

The landscape for cinema in 2023, particularly within the comic book genre, has been challenging. Several anticipated tentpoles and presumed blockbusters encountered lackluster performances at the box office. Even as the holiday season approaches, the overall industry momentum appears subdued, with projections hinting at a mixed bag of successes and underperformances.

Jason Momoa is very excited about his mysterious future with DC Studios |  British GQ

“Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,” a sequel that comes with a hefty $215 million production cost, faces the uphill task of not just meeting but surpassing the financial benchmarks set by its predecessor in 2017. However, recent DCEU films have struggled to breach the $400 million mark. The film’s success is further complicated by the changing dynamics in audience preferences, as superhero cinema undergoes a phase of scrutiny and selectivity.

The challenges ahead for the Aquaman sequel involve not only financial expectations but also the critical reception and audience engagement. While the return of the original Aquaman’s creative team is promising, rumors of a troubled production raise concerns. The success of the marketing campaign hinges on the quality of trailers and promotional material, which, despite looking visually appealing, may not convince the mainstream audience of a substantially new and different experience.

As the first trailer for “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” garners a respectable 15 million views after two months, comparisons with other superhero trailers, such as “The Marvels” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” suggest a need for stronger promotional efforts. With limited buzz leading up to the sequel’s release, the film must compete with other holiday releases and captivate audiences’ attention to secure a successful box office run.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom' trailer features Jason Momoa's return to the  sea | CNN

In a year marked by disappointments and challenges for the film industry, the fate of “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” remains uncertain. Despite cautious optimism, projections indicate a global gross potentially ranging from $400 million to $600 million, with the hope that holiday boosts and positive word-of-mouth could propel it towards the upper end of that spectrum. As the last chapter in the DCEU, the film carries the weight of the franchise’s legacy, hoping to defy the odds and resonate with audiences amidst a turbulent cinematic landscape.

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