‘Wonka’ Wins New Year’s Box Office Battle With .5 Million, 2023 Domestic Ticket Sales Top  Billion

‘Wonka’ Wins New Year’s Box Office Battle With $29.5 Million, 2023 Domestic Ticket Sales Top $9 Billion

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“Wonka,” a musical fantasy that has been the biggest hit of the holiday season, topped the box office on New Year’s Eve, closing 2023 on a sweet note. The film, which stars Timothée Chalamet as a more youthful Willy Wonka, grossed $22.7 million for the weekend and a projected $29.5 million for the four-day holiday. That brings the domestic gross to $140.2 million, a strong result for the $125 million production. Globally, the Warner Bros. release is hovering around $400 million.

“Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” continued to flail at the box office, dragging the superhero adventure to a watery grave. The film earned $18.3 million over the weekend and $23.5 million for the four-day period. That’s good enough for a second place finish, pushing “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’s” domestic haul to a less than legendary $81.8 million. Some of the pain is being offset internationally, with the film’s global haul standing at more than $250 million. But the film, which had a tangled production, cost more than $200 million to produce and tens of millions more to market. Since movie theaters keep roughly half of ticket sales, “Aquaman 2” will struggle to turn a profit. It’s a brutal result considering that the first “Aquaman” earned more than $1 billion globally (though it was helped by China, which has become less hospitable to Hollywood movies). The film ends the DC Extended Universe, a failed attempt by Warner Bros. to replicate the success that Marvel once enjoyed before their comic book movies also started to fall out of favor. Newly installed DC chiefs James Gunn and Peter Safran have been tasked with rebooting the company’s approach to bringing caped crusaders to the big screen. The good news is that Gunn’s most recent film, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” was one of the rare recent superhero movies to score commercially. Now, Gunn will try to recapture the magic with a new Superman film.

In third place, Universal and Illumination’s “Migration” earned $17 million over the weekend and a projected $22 million over the four-day holiday, bringing its domestic total to a humdrum $59.1 million. The animated adventure won’t be a hit on the level of Illumination’s “Sing” or “Despicable Me,” but it was relatively cheap to produce with a budget of roughly $70 million. The hope is that the film can sustain some momentum heading into the post-holiday season, a period when there aren’t many movies geared towards kids.

“The Color Purple” and “Anyone But You” rounded out the top five. Warner Bros. produced the musical version of Alice Walker’s classic novel, “The Color Purple,” which grossed $11.7 million during the weekend and will earn $14.8 million for the four-day holiday. Its domestic total stands at $47.1 million. The film has earned critical support and is hoping to be a major awards season contender. That’s not the case with “Anyone But You,” a romantic comedy with Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney, that didn’t get much support from reviewers. The film earned $8.7 million for the weekend and a projected $11 million over the four-day holiday. Domestically, its total will stand at $27.1 million. That’s a lackluster result, but the Sony Pictures release didn’t cost much to make, carrying a budget of $25 million.

Overall, the 2023 domestic box office topped $9 billion, according to ComScore. That’s an improvement on the $7.4 billion in total ticket sales from 2022, though it still trails the $11.4 billion in revenue from 2019, the last pre-COVID year. The industry is recovering from the pandemic, but it has yet to recapture its stride.

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