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Amber Heard and Jason Momoa as Mera and Aquaman respectively. Image Credit: Supplied

In a weekend with five new wide releases, a North American box office record was expected to be set that would surpass 2016’s $11.4 billion (Dh41.8 billion) by a hair. This year’s box office stood at $11.4 billion through Sunday, a turnaround from 2017’s lackluster $10.6 billion grosses.

In first place, Warner Bros’ ‘Aquaman’ opened with $67.4 million, for a cumulative $72.1 million, which includes tickets sold in special opening and preview events, according to figures from measurement firm Comscore.

The $200 million superhero movie, starring ‘Game of Thrones’ alum Jason Momoa in the titular role, opened in range of analysts’ predictions of $65 million to $70 million over the weekend. Globally, the picture is No 1 for the third week straight and crossed the $400 million mark internationally, earning $91.3 million over the weekend for a global cumulative of $482.8 million.

Directed by James Wan, ‘Aquaman’ is the first release from the studio’s DC Comics Universe since last year’s poorly received ‘Justice League.’ It earned an A-minus on CinemaScore and a 64 per cent “fresh” rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.

At No 2, Disney’s ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ earned $22.2 million in its opening weekend and $31 million since its debut in the US on Wednesday, well below analysts’ five-day predictions of $55 million and even below the studio’s more conservative estimate of $35 million.

The PG-rated follow-up to the studio’s classic 1964 musical stars Emily Blunt as the British nanny made famous by Julie Andrews. It earned an A-minus rating on CinemaScore and a 77 per cent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Paramount’s ‘Bumblebee’ debuted in third place, with $21 million, in range of studio expectations of less than $25 million but below analyst projections of $40 million.

The $137 million movie is a spinoff of Michael Bay’s popular ‘Transformers’ franchise. Directed by Travis Knight, it was positively received by audiences and critics with an A-minus rating on CinemaScore and a 94 per cent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.