"Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" opens with $4.5 million in Thursday previews, far behind the first film's $9 million in 2018.

The sequel is expected to make $37-43 million in its domestic debut, trailing the first Aquaman and "The Marvels."

It marks the end of an era as new DC leadership prepares to reboot the universe with "Superman: Legacy."

Aquaman (2018) had a successful opening of $67.9 million and went on to earn $335.1 million domestically and $1.15 billion globally.

Aquaman 2 aims to win a relatively soft Christmas weekend at the box office.

Other films opening include "Wonka" and "The Color Purple."

Illumination's "Migration" is projected to gross $14-15 million over the holiday weekend.

Disney Animation's "Wish" disappointed despite a $31.6 million opening.

Specialized films like MGM/Amazon's "American Fiction" are expanding in anticipation of awards season.