Warner Bros.’ Aquaman racked up $22 million on Tuesday alone, making it one of the top Christmas Day grossing films behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Avatar, according to Variety. The film has now grossed more than $550 million and counting worldwide. This feat was no accident. Warner Bros. targeted female moviegoers from the jump.
There was a lot riding on Aquaman. This December marked the first year since 2014 that Warner Bros. Pictures didn’t have a Star Wars movie to lean on. The DC Universe has also been inconsistent despite Wonder Woman’s box office success. Wonder Woman, which led female audiences with the strength and girl power that Diana Prince embodied, served as a litmus test. A study by Variety showed that, unlike the typically male audience for superhero movies, Wonder Woman sales were powered by women. What’s more is that the average number of tickets per sale was more than usual. What that meant to analysts is that those women were also taking their children to see the warrior princess. All Aquaman had to do was to repeat that success and bring women, children, and families to the box office, but how? The answer: Jason Momoa.
The Warner Bros. marketing team, led by President of Worldwide Marketing Blair Rich, turned to their acting crew to try and duplicate Wonder Woman’s success. Jason Momoa’s social media events, performance of a ceremonial Māori Haka dance on the Aquaman Hollywood premiere red carpet two weeks before film release, and Saturday Night Live hosting appearance all came together. Warner Bros. marketing plan worked. Aquaman grossed more than $105 million domestically over the five-day holiday. Women turned out in greater numbers than men and enjoyed Aquaman more than men, according to numbers by Deadline. The term “Aquaman” was searched twice as much as Justice League, Venom, Wonder Woman, and Thor: Ragnorak.
Audience engagement tracker RelishMix had this to say about the Aquaman buzz: “DC comics fans have been frustrated with previous movies in the series, with the exception of the beloved Wonder Woman. Fans are likening this Arthur Curry origin story to that film, saying that Aquaman is righting Warner Bros.’ DC ship.”
In the end, it seems, we took the Jason Momoa Aquaman bait.