What a difference a year makes. This time last summer we were trying to manage through one of the worst movie seasons ever, with disasters like “The Mummy” and “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Now, it’s as though everything Hollywood puts out is a box-office hit.
The movie business is having a very good year.
With early-year successes like “Black Panther” and “A Quiet Place” matched with the huge performances by “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Deadpool 2,” and “Incredibles 2,” the 2018 box office is up a healthy 8% from last year, and the summer movie season is up more than 15% compared with last year.
Jeff Bock, a senior box-office analyst at Exhibitor Relations, said it’s quite simple: This year, the sequels are actually good.
“Cinephiles may not want to hear this, but sequels, spin-offs, and superheroes have been the guiding forces at the box office in 2018,” Bock told Business Insider. “The difference between this year and last, Hollywood is offering up more sequels that audiences actually wanted to see.”
To look back at how we got here, we’ve listed the five winners and five losers at the box office so far in 2018:
WINNER: “Black Panther”
We can no longer say February is the bumping ground for lousy movies. “Black Panther” didn’t just shatter box-office records when it did a $202 million opening earlier this year; it proved that audiences wanted diverse stories told to them on the big screen. The film is still the highest-grossing movie of the year in North America so far, with $699.8 million domestically. Worldwide the movie has grossed over $1.3 billion.
LOSER: “Solo: A Star Wars Story”
For any other movie, almost $370 million earned worldwide in just over a month in theaters would be a job well done. But not for a “Star Wars” movie. The standalone young Han Solo movie disappointed the critics and fans, leading to talk that the public had finally hit “Star Wars” fatigue. This was a major blow for Disney/Lucasfilm, which now has to go lick its wounds and rethink how it wants to go forward with telling the beloved saga (and how much content audiences can stomach).
WINNER: “A Quiet Place”
One of the biggest success stories of the year, John Krasinski’s $17 million thriller about monsters that attack anything that makes a sound has become an international hit, as it has taken in an astounding $329.8 million to date. It proves that the horror/thriller genre is still one of the most inventive and worthwhile in the industry.
LOSER: “A Wrinkle in Time”
Disney teaming with the director Ava DuVernay and having a cast that included Reese Witherspoon and Oprah was thought by everyone to have the makings of a hit. But it turned out to be one of Disney’s biggest duds in a while. With its over $100 million budget and probably more in the marketing of the movie, it opened with a weak $33 million and only recently got over the $100 million mark domestically. Well, even Disney can’t win them all.
WINNER: “I Can Only Imagine”
This faith-based title made for only $7 million is a cash cow for its distributor, Roadside Attractions. The movie made back its money (and then some) during opening weekend with a $17.1 million take and has gone on to earn a remarkable $83.4 million at the US box office.
LOSER: “The Hurricane Heist”
From the director behind the first “Fast and the Furious” movie, this CGI-fueled crime caper set during a natural disaster was one of the biggest duds of the first half. Opening on more than 2,400 screening its opening weekend, it earned only $3 million (an average of $1,200 a screen) and to date has made just $6.1 million.
WINNER: Summer movies
The season started a weekend early this year with the release of “Avengers: Infinity War,” and it’s been a big success ever since. The latest Avengers movie has taken in $672.6 million domestically and over $2 billion worldwide. “Incredibles 2” had the biggest opening ever for an animated movie ($182.6 million) and is on its way to a huge total when it ends its box-office run (it is on pace to cross $650 million worldwide by the time the Fourth of July ends). And “Deadpool 2” is also proving that hard-R movies can make bank. It has earned over $700 million to date. And the good times are set to continue. “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” is on another dominant pace to $1 billion, and there are still big releases to come like “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” Dwayne Johnson’s “Skyscraper,” and “Mission: Impossible – Fallout.” The summer movie season is certainly flexing its muscles this year.
The same can’t be said about studio-made comedies. In the past, a solid comedy by the likes of Will Ferrell or a raunchy plot with recognizable casting, like “The Hangover,” would at least take in $100 million domestically. But it seems those days are over. Though 2018 has had a lot of hits at the box office, many of the bigger misses have been comedies like Melissa McCarthy’s “Life of the Party” ($52.3 million domestic) and Amy Schumer’s “I Feel Pretty” ($48.7 million). Neither of these came close to earning $100 million worldwide.
WINNER: Disney and Fox
With the impending sale of Fox to Disney looming over Hollywood, the industry has to be nervous just how powerful that studio will become looking at the performance the two have put on this year. Disney is still the dominant force, as it’s responsible for the year’s three highest-grossing domestic movies (“Black Panther,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Incredibles 2”), but in fourth place is Fox’s “Deadpool 2,” and going forward this year Fox has attractive offerings like “The Predator,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “Alita: Battle Angel.” This plus all the Marvel properties Fox has. Combined, the two make up close to half of the market share at the domestic box office this year. The future will be very different if (or when) these two team up.
Out of the six major studios, Paramount is in last place this year with only 5.5% of the market domestically. Beyond “A Quiet Place,” the movie studio has had only moderate successes like “Book Club” and “Annihilation” (which doesn’t earn it any foreign gross because it sold those rights to Netflix). But the black eye this year for the studio is its latest collaboration with the “Jackass” star Johnny Knoxville. The comedy about an unsafe amusement park has taken in only $5 million since June 1. The movie was made for $19 million. That’s going to leave a mark!