• Warner Bros.' "Aquaman" debuted in China over the weekend two weeks before it premieres in the US, and made $94 million.
  • It was the highest-grossing movie in the world for the weekend, despite only opening in China, and already surpassed the entire gross of "Wonder Woman" there.
  • It reinforces how important international box office has become for Hollywood movies, especially China, which is expected to surpass the US as the world's biggest theatrical market in the next five years.

Warner Bros.' "Aquaman" received a rare early release in China over the weekend, two weeks before it's set to premiere in the US on December 21. The movie's Chinese debut set the bar high for its domestic opening, as it grossed $94 million to be the weekend's biggest movie in the world, and the biggest opening for Warner Bros. ever in China.

"Aquaman" has already grossed more than "Wonder Woman" did in its entire Chinese run, as it made just $90.5 million total, and is on track to surpass "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," which scored $96 million. The movie is rolling out in over 40 more international markets this week, including the UK, Russia, Mexico, and Brazil, according to Box Office Mojo.

The movie's dominance in China reinforces how important international box office has become for Hollywood movies. China is even expected to dethrone the US as the world's biggest theatrical market by 2022, according to an Ampere Analysis report released last month.

Warner Bros. found success in China with other movies this year, like "Rampage" and "The Meg," which both earned more in China than in the US and helped ensure that they weren't box-office failures. "Aquaman" features similar qualities as those movies that appealed to Chinese audiences. As Exhibitor Relations tweeted on Saturday, "Monsters and mayhem—just the sort of movie that slays in China."

"Aquaman" is projected to earn $65 million when it opens in the US. That would make it the lowest opening for any of the DC Extended Universe movies. But buzz could increase that prediction over the next two weeks, and its international box office is already an impressive feat for Warner Bros.

This article was written by Travis Clark from Business Insider and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The content featured on https://entertainment.directv.com/ is editorial content brought to you by DIRECTV. While some of the programming discussed may now or in the future be available by our or our affiliates distribution services, the companies and persons discussed and depicted, and the authors and publishers of licensed content, are not necessarily associated with and do not necessarily endorse DIRECTV. When you click on ads on this site you may be taken to DIRECTV marketing pages that display advertising content. Content sponsored or co-created by programmers is identified as "Sponsored Content" or "Promoted Content."