Sunday, September 9, 2018

Sunday Best: 2018 Summer Box Office Review

Summer Movie Season has come and gone once again.  And what is our conclusion?

In terms of box office success, it was a mixed bag.  Movies took in about 14% more from last year in terms of money, but attendance was down to the second worst in 25 years.    

Before I go further, there were a number of movies that I did not get a chance to see, so I cannot speak intelligently about them.  

In terms of box office, the top 10 highest grossing films of the summer are as follows (I am going to make a projection that Mission Impossible - Fallout will make at least $2 million more and pull ahead of  Ant-Man and the Wasp and that Crazy Rich Asians will make another $3 million and beat out the current 10th place film Ocean's 8):

1. Avengers: Infinity War
2. Incredibles 2
3. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
4. Deadpool 2
5. Mission: Impossible - Fallout
6. Ant-Man and the Wasp
7.  Solo: A Star Wars Story
8. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
9. Crazy Rich Asians
10. Ocean's 8

My predictions were as follows (along with my rationale):

1.  Avengers: Infinity War

Even though Age of Ultron did not win the summer box office, I think build up to this one is unprecedented and they are spring-boarding for the biggest hit of the year so far: Black Panther

2.  Solo: A Star Wars Story
Solo A Star Wars Story poster.jpg

The last three Star Wars movies released in theaters were the highest grossing films of their year.  But between the blowback on the last two and the rumors about this one, I think this will get a healthy silver medal.

3.  The Incredibles 2

Finding Dory was a PIXAR sequel that ruled the summer box office a few years ago.  I think that The Incredibles has the same level of appeal.

4.  Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom.png

There hadn't been a Jurassic movie for decades until the first Jurassic World.  So I don't think this one will have the same draw, but it will be significant because of the brand name and Chris Pratt.

5.  Deadpool 2
Deadpool 2 poster.jpg
This, I think, will be the only R-rated film on this list.  The first one engendered a lot of good-will from its fan base and I think this one will perform very well too.

6.  Ant-Man and the Wasp
Ant-Man and the Wasp poster.jpg

I think that Infinity War will be such a big hit that people will be thirsting for any window into the aftermath in the MCU.  This will raise this movie up in potential box office.

7.  Disney's Christopher Robin
Christopher Robin poster.png
Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast were gigantic live-action hits based on animated films.  And there is so much affection for Pooh in the general culture that I think that even adults will be drawn to the heart of this story.

8.  Mission: Impossible - Fallout

MI – Fallout.jpg
The last one in the series was the 5th highest grossing film of the summer it came out.  The competition is a little bit more fierce this year and Cruise may have to pick himself up out of the bomb of last year's The Mummy.

9.  Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
Hotel Transylvania 3 (2018) Poster.jpg

This will be the all-ages alternative to The Incredibles.  I don't think that many adults will be interested in this like The Incredibles, but parents would be fine bringing their kids here.

10.  Ocean's 8

This movie looks like an actually fun heist movie and exciting enough to draw in a crowd.  So far the marketing campaign hasn't been antagonistic like the reboot ofGhostbusters.  If they maintain that good will, I think this will be a hit.


Last year I got 8 out of 10 correct.  This year I improved to 9 out of ten.  I did even better on the order, though Solo underperforming and Mission:Impossible over-performing caused a lot of fluctuation.

So here are my conclusions.

Marvel/Disney did phenomanally well.  Two MCU movies are in the top 10 (one of which is the highest grosser), a Fox/Marvel film also made the top 10 (Deadpool 2) and two more Disney films made it in the top 10 (Solo and Incredibles 2) . So fully half of the top 10 are related in some way to Marvel/Disney, even though one was a dissapointment (more on this later)

2. Franchise Films
Only Crazy Rich Asians is the non-franchise film in the top 10.  Critics constantly complain about the glut of franchise films, but they clearly are a safer bet at the box office if you build up good-will with the audience.  Many franchises did some of their best numbers this summer with Infinity War and Mission: Impossible.  Even the horrible Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again has made about $120 million so far.

3.  Tom Cruise
Last year, people were lamenting the bomb of Cruise's The Mummy (a movie that I actually enjoyed very much).  But those writing his box office obituary have egg on their face now.  The 6th M:I not only was a fantastic film, it was the highest grossing in the franchise.  Not to mention it was, in my opinion, the best of the series.  This movie is exactly the shot in the arm Cruise needed after last year to put him back on top.

4.  Crazy Rich Asians
The only film I didn't predict to make it into the top 10.  This was the summer's sleeper hit.  It has outgrossed the nearest film in the genre of Rom Com this summer (Amy Schumer's I Feel Pretty) by about $100 million.  As I wrote in my review the film opens the audience up to a fascinating world while feeling familiar and universal.  With a assumed budget of $30 million, this is a bonafide money-maker.


1.  Star Wars
I loved Solo, but it clearly disappointed at the box office.  I place the blame not on this fun and charming film, but on the previous two Star Wars films that soured so many people on the franchise.  This does not bode well for future films in the Saga.  We will have to see how Episode IX does and if it can recover from this.

2.  Other Comedies

Besides Crazy Rich Asians,  very few full-out comedies did well.  Raunchy comedies like Blockers and The Spy Who Dumped Me as well as more traditional comedies like Life of the Party couldn't get more than $60 million.  None of them can quite crack through to general audiences.  Because comedy is so subjective, perhaps someone needs to come along who has built up enough audience good will to draw them in.  

3.  Dwayne Johnson

I hesitate to call him a "loser," but the last two summers have been disappointments.  Last year's Baywatch failed to catch on.  And this year, Johnson had two big profile films come out Rampage and Skyscraper.  And while they did moderately well, neither were able to cross $100 million domestic (as of this writing).  Even though his foreign box office is strong, his star power is not enough to catapult his numbers higher.  He is still a draw and if given the right material, he can help make a genuine hit (see Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle).  But he needs a vehicle that will with make his movies an event in the same way Cruise did with Mission: Impossible.  

I'll be finishing up my summer movie reviews soon, but there was a lot of hit or miss this year.  

Here's the thing: I want to go to the movies.  I am willing to spend my hard-earned dollars to be taken away inside of a darkened theater.   But if you don't give me a good quality, I will save my money and binge-watch Stranger Things Season 3.

But in terms of ranking by quality, here are the rankings of the summer movies I saw in 2018.

Avengers: Infinity War
Mission:Impossible - Fallout
Incredibles 2
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Deadpool 2
Disney's Christopher Robin
Crazy Rich Asians
The Equalizer 2
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Ocean's 8
The Spy Who Dumped Me
The Meg
Mamma Mia!  Here We Go Again
Life of the Party


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