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The Color Purple Question

'The Color Purple'
In this new ecosystem, should a prestigious, acclaimed, and possibly Oscar-contending box office underperformer like 'The Color Purple' be graded commercially on a curve? Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures
Scott Mendelson
January 7, 2024

The good news for Warner Bros.: It had the holiday season event film of 2023. The bad news: That movie wasn’t the $205 million-budgeted Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, but rather the $125 million-budgeted Wonka. Sure, Aquaman 2 is still holding up overseas, with a current $335 million global haul, including $54 million in China, and a likely final total of around $415 million worldwide. But that’s still a huge drop from the $1.15 billion amassed by James Wan’s first installment, in 2018, even when accounting for Hollywood’s recent troubles in China, where the first film earned $298 million.  

However, WB’s Wonka, directed by Paul King and starring Timothée Chalamet, has earned $165 million domestically and $465 million worldwide, with a likely final global haul of around $560 million, depending on South Korea later this month. Taken together, these films are moderate successes. Aquaman 2 and Wonka will earn around $980 million globally, nearly triple their combined reported budget of $330 million.