Could be James Wans Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom Can Hollywood studios’ box office losing streak in China be ended? Film fans and analysts will soon find out. The superhero sequel from Warner Bros. and DC Studios is scheduled for release on Dec. 20, two days before its North American premiere, news sites in mainland China reported Tuesday.
The original Aquaman (2018), starring Jason Momoa in the title role, became a phenomenon in China, opening to $93 million and eventually totaling $291.8 million. With worldwide box office receipts of $1.148 billion, the film is still the highest-grossing DC film of all time. But U.S. franchise films — and superhero sequels in particular — have been declining in China since the pandemic. Two weekends ago, Disney’s The wonders opened in second place with just $11.5 million, an all-time low for an MCU opening weekend in China. Earlier this year, DC’s Shazam! Rage of the gods And The Lightning Both fared worse, earning just $6 million and $25.9 million respectively in China – a fraction of what even the most disappointing US superhero titles typically earned in the country a few years ago.
Aquaman 2 will benefit from the recent resolution of the SAG-AFTRA strike, which will allow its stars to walk the red carpet and do the usual promotional rounds. However, Warners has not yet announced plans for Wan, Momoa and others to visit China. Both Momoa and Amber Heard landed in Beijing for the local premiere of Aquaman in 2018. Some Chinese industry analysts said studios’ lack of targeted local marketing campaigns in the post-pandemic period was partly responsible for the country’s reduced revenues. Christopher Nolan is the only major Hollywood personality to visit Beijing on a promotional tour since the pandemic – and Oppenheimer is one of the few surprises at the US box office in the country this year. The film grossed $62 million, Nolan’s second-best showing in China to date Interstellar ($122 million) – and an unprecedented achievement for a three-hour English-language period drama.
It was a long way to get to the multiplex The Lost Kingdom. As with many films made in the COVID-19 era, the film’s release date has been pushed back multiple times. The film was originally scheduled to open in North America in December 2022. That changed to March 2023 before being pushed back to Christmas 2023. The film also ran for three production seasons at Warner Bros. and underwent a number of reshoots.
However, Wan’s box office performance in China is phenomenal. His rates in The Fast and the Furious Franchises are among the country’s biggest box office hits of all time. Angry 7 (2015) earned $390.9 million and The fate of the angry (2017) grossed $392.8 million.
The Lost Kingdomwhich reunites Momoa’s heroes with Patrick Wilson’s Orm Marius and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s Black Manta, is the final film set in the DCEU, beginning with Zack Snyder’s film a decade ago man of Steel (2013). After Aquaman and the Lost KingdomExecutives James Gunn and Peter Safran will first open their own universe Superman: Legacywhich is dated July 2025.