Playing in China for a little more than three weeks, and in domestic theaters for a single weekend, director James Wan's Aquaman is already well on its way to becoming the top-grossing film in the DC Extended Universe at the international box office. The movie has earned an impressive $410.7 million from overseas markets to date, overtaking the lifetime foreign box office totals of 2017's Wonder Woman and 2013's Man of Steel.
Wonder Woman earned $409.3 million abroad, while Man of Steel, the inaugural release in the so-called DCEU brought in $377 million. At its current trajectory, Aquaman is poised to outperform Suicide Squad and Justice League's lifetime international box office earnings by the end of the week. David Ayer's 2016 ensemble film, which starred Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto, grossed $421.7 million internationally, while last year's Justice League drew $428.9 million overseas.
China stands as the largest foreign market, and for now the largest market, period, for Aquaman, although the Jason Momoa film only been screening in North America for barely four days. Aquaman opened in China two full weeks before the its wide release domestically, and has already earned $232.8 million in that country. That very well could place the film on track to surprass the Chinese box office performance of Sony's Venom, which opened to record-breaking numbers last month, and has so far earned $262 million. However, it's not expected to outperform Marvel Studios' Avengers: Infinity War, which earned $373.4 million earlier this year in China.
The current foreign box office leader for the DCEU and highest-earning film on Warner Bros.' superhero slate to date remains Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The 2016 film grossed $873.6 million worldwide, $543.2 million of which came from international markets. While it remains to be seen whether Aquaman can eclipse Batman v Superman's foreign and global box office totals, it has already far outperformed the 2016 film's Chinese earnings -- a mere $95 million.
On track to reach the $500 million mark at the worldwide box office by Christmas, Aquaman is doing big business across the globe, and already stands as the biggest solo DCEU film with overseas audiences. The film is projected to earn around $120 million at the domestic box office through the five-day Christmas holiday frame, including $72 million from Thursday night previews. For a character derided for decades because of his seemingly limited ability to only talk to fish, Arthur Curry has already overtaken two of DC's flagship superheroes in Superman and Wonder Woman with foreign audiences, and does not appear to be losing momentum.
The DCEU was in desperate need for a strong film after last year's disappointing critical and commercial performance of Justice League. With Aquaman, the tonal shift for the cinematic universe appears to be connecting with audiences, with stronger critical reception and box office earnings for the film. In its unlikely undersea hero, Warner Bros. may have found the course correction it needed to reposition the cinematic universe, setting the stage for tonally similar films, including next year's Shazam! and 2020's Wonder Woman 1984. And if the new film is any indication, the departure from the grim and gritty tone of earlier DCEU films will translate to big business internationally.
Directed by James Wan, Aquaman stars Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Amber Heard as Mera, Patrick Wilson as Orm, Willem Dafoe as Nuidis Vulko, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Manta, Temuera Morrison as Thomas Curry, Dolph Lundgren as Nereus and Nicole Kidman as Queen Atlanna.