Set to release Friday, December 22, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is more than a sequel to the 2018 film; it's also the final film of the DCEU ahead of James Gunn and Peter Safran's reboot of the franchise.
Amidst all the negativity surrounding the sequel and rather dismal box office projections for Jason Momoa's likely final run as Arthur Curry, critics reviewing the Warner Bros. film received an equally concerning update.
Aquaman 2's Worrying Review Window
Critic Dave Gonzalez revealed that the review embargo for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is Thursday, December 21 at 8:00 a.m. MT / 10:00 a.m. ET.
This is one day prior to the sequel's U.S. debut, leaving little time for audiences to absorb reviews.
But for select countries and territories where Aquaman 2 releases on December 20, reviews won't be posted until the day after; and others, on the day of.
For example, in the U.K., where the final DCEU chapter premieres on December 21, reviews will be posted that same day or even after the movie has already come out.
While not always the case, a narrow window (or no window) between the critics' embargo and a movie's release is often a sign of the studio's lack of confidence, suggesting a film's poor quality and an expectation of poor reviews.
Other Reasons for Aquaman 2's Critics Update
One possibility is to prevent spoilers, such as how Aquaman's story and the DCEU end.
But it's also worth noting that this DC film franchise has a history of tight review embargos which has worked to its advantage, such as in the case of 2017's Wonder Woman.
At the moment, the strategy behind Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom's embargo update remains to be seen, but it's unlikely to improve the discouraging narrative surrounding the film thus far.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom arrives in theaters on Friday, December 22.