This time last year the future of cinema looked, at best, bleak. The summer of 2017 brought in just $3.8bn in domestic revenue, the lowest in over a decade, and cinema attendance was only falling. Pandemonium ensued, it was clearly going to be the end of the world as we know it (just kidding).
Clearly we underestimated 2018 though, because at the close of the summer season, the box office seems to have bounced back stronger than ever bringing a whopping $4.38bn domestically, and a further $8.5bn from other major territories including us in the UK. To put that in perspective, that’s the 5th best of all time.
What made the summer of 2018 so big?
Well for starters we had a huge array of bankable franchise releases. Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War was the biggest hit of the season bringing in over $2bn, although its opening week doesn’t technically count towards the Summer total. Ant-Man and the Wasp exceeded expectations and both Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and the long awaited sequel, Incredibles 2, crossed the $1bn mark. However, maybe these big names aren’t quite as infallible as they once seemed – the summer also saw Solo: A Star Wars Story which came down with a pretty serious case of franchise fatigue. That being said, Mission: Impossible – Fallout proved itself a failsafe for producers, Paramount, taking the record for the highest grossing movie worldwide with $750m.
In terms of standalone hits, one in particular comes to mind. Crazy Rich Asians took the world by storm on the 15th August. Already at $165m worldwide despite still awaiting its release in some key regions, the movie proved to be exactly what the people wanted. Its talented and culturally diverse cast drew in swathes of moviegoers, Crazy Rich Asians is a refreshing change of pace for Hollywood. Which is perhaps why it succeeded in the summer’s sea of flailing comedies – The Spy Who Dumped Me and Melissa McCarthy’s The Happytime Murders both sunk like a lead balloon. On the topic of Warner Bros releases, The Meg also deserves a special mention. Far exceeding expectations, the fishy thriller has so far brought in $132m domestically, taking WB’s total domestic revenue for the year over $1bn.
Already the 2018 box office forecasts have been tweaked, Wall Street expects revenue to end the year 5% up on last year. If you think back to last year’s late releases, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Thor: Ragnarok, Jumanji: Welcome to The Jungle (colons were clearly having a moment) – these movies were huge! A 5% increase would be pretty impressive… but totally doable.
Still to come this year we’ve got DCEU’s Aquaman, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and a couple of Disney numbers in the mix as well. Justice League, DCEU’s last release, made $657.9m and its last standalone superhero movie, Wonder Woman, made $821.8m. We’d expect Aquaman, scheduled for release 14th December (UK), to make somewhere in the region of $6-800m. The original Fantastic Beasts made $812.5m back in 2016 and since then its characters have only grown in popularity online. With a stronger link to its mother franchise – in that we will get to see the younger versions of our well loved characters – this one might just be within touching distance of that all important $1bn mark. What do you think? We’ll find out shortly after 16th November.
Now, Disney. So big it gets its own paragraph. What a year it’s been so far for the production company. It delivered some of the biggest movies of the year – Marvel’s gains are Disney’s gains so that’s already a hefty sum under its belt, then came Incredibles 2 and more recently Christopher Robin. Overall, Disney took an entire third of the summer’s total domestic revenue. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is next for the franchise (set for release 2nd November), the tale of a young girl’s adventures into a Christmassy realm of gingerbread soldiers. Oh, and Keira Knightley stars as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Then later in the month, Ralph Breaks the Internet hits our screens. Its prequel, Wreck It Ralph, made $471.2m in 2012 but this time they have Gal Gadot and Frozen’s Kristen Bell… so who knows? The sky’s the limit.
…And that’s a wrap. Obviously we’ve missed a few potential blockbusters in this whirlwind tour of Autumn/Winter box office releases but hopefully this gives you an idea of where the movie industry is headed as we move into the latter part of 2018 and what to expect over the coming months.