Summer 2018 Delivers $4.38 Billion in Domestic Grosses, Keeping Year on Record Pace
by Brad Brevet
September 11, 2018
Summer 2018 has come to an end, along with the month of August. To Hollywood's delight, August finished up +29% compared to 2017's disastrous performance and the summer movie season was up nearly +15% compared to last year's similarly dismal showing. Disney led the way over the summer months serving as the only studio to top $1 billion in calendar grosses for the time frame, led by the June release of Incredibles 2, which brought in over $600 million to become the highest grossing animated domestic release ever.
Summer was also bolstered by such releases as Universal's Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Fox's Deadpool 2, the late-spring carryover Avengers: Infinity War and late-summer releases including Paramount's Mission: Impossible - Fallout and Warner Bros.'s August surge in the form of The Meg and Crazy Rich Asians. In fact, The Meg and Crazy Rich Asians helped push WB over the $1 billion mark domestically for the year, taking the studio crown for the month of August.
Overall, this was the fifth largest summer movie season of all-time. The season posted $4.385 billion in domestic grosses, topping 2017's season, which hit a 12-year low, by +14.6%. It should be noted, some industry reports are citing the summer season as reaching $4.8 billion as a result of extending the summer movie season to include the last few days of April, thereby including the opening weekend for Avengers: Infinity War. Mojo's definition of the summer movie season has always been the first Friday in May through Labor Day weekend and in an effort to maintain a continuous apples-to-apples comparison as best as we can we won't be making a special exception for 2018.
Leading the summer charge was Disney, which brought in $1.47 billion in domestic grosses from seven films. Incredibles 2 led the studio's summer slate with $602.5 million in domestic grosses, becoming the highest grossing animated domestic release of all-time. With $1.17 billion in global ticket sales, Incredibles 2 also sits as the second highest grossing animated worldwide release, trailing just Frozen's $1.276 billion in worldwide grosses. Infinity War's monster, $678.8 million domestic performance contributed $340.4 million to Disney's summer tally followed by Ant-Man and the Wasp and Solo: A Star Wars Story, both of which contributed over $213 million to the bottom line.
As a result, Disney still remains the year's top grossing studio by a wide margin with domestic ticket sales reaching $2.74 billion as of the last day in August. This is more than the second and third place studios combined and a +95.6% improvement over Disney's performance at that same time last year and a +28.6% improvement over the studio's record smashing 2016 when they became the first studio ever to top $3 billion in domestic ticket sales. Looking ahead, Disney is taking the months of September and October off from releasing any new films, but will ramp up again in November beginning with The Nutcracker and the Four Realms on November 2 followed by Ralph Breaks the Internet (11/21) and Mary Poppins Returns (12/19). To say this will end up being the studio's second year that tops $3 billion in ticket sales seems almost a foregone conclusion at this point.
Universal finished second for the summer season with $727.5 million in domestic grosses from eight releases. Leading the way was the June release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom with $415.2 million in domestic grosses. While well behind Jurassic World's massive 2015 performance, the film's $1.3 billion global haul proves audiences still have an appetite for the franchise which will see Jurassic World 3 hit theaters in June 2021. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again was the studio's second highest grossing release of the season, bringing in just over $118 million, it too falling short of its predecessor both domestically and internationally, though $377.3 million worldwide on a $75 million budget is hardly a disappointment.
Universal also enjoyed success with smaller budgeted features such as Gabrielle Union's Breaking In, which delivered $46.5 million domestically on a $6 million budget, and the $13 million budgeted The First Purge, which has so far grossed over $135 million worldwide. All told, Universal currently ranks as the third highest grossing studio of the year, bringing in $1.089 billion in domestic ticket sales as of the end of August. The studio is currently pacing -18.5% behind where they were last year, but they have plenty left in the pipeline including the likes of Halloween (10/19) and The Grinch (11/9), not to mention the Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish comedy Night School (9/28), the Jack Black fantasy feature The House with a Clock in Its Walls (9/21) and the Oscar hopeful First Man (10/12).
Finishing in third is Warner Bros. after enjoying an August surge where it topped all studios with $224 million in domestic grosses, thanks largely to the release of The Meg and Crazy Rich Asians, the only two August releases so far to top $100 million domestically. In fact, at of the end of July, Warner Bros. was pacing almost -30% behind 2017. By the end of August that deficit had dwindled to -19.4%. As such, WB currently ranks as the second highest grossing studio of the year so far with domestic grosses coming up just shy of $1.1 billion as of the end of August.
When it comes to WB's summer season, the studio delivered just over $545 million from twelve films in release. Of those films, the studio's top release over the summer months was the early June release of Ocean's 8. The all-female spin-off feature brought in $139.2 million over the course of the season, topping both Ocean's Twelve ($125.5m) and Ocean's Thirteen ($117.15m).
Looking ahead, WB has a lot to look forward to including the much-talked about A Star is Born, which enjoyed a strong showing at the Venice Film Festival and recently played the Toronto Film Festival. Additionally, the studio still has Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and Aquaman to look forward to before the year comes to a close.
Sony took fourth position for the season with eleven films totaling $402.39 million. Leading the studio's slate was Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, which brought in $162.8 million domestically and has now brought in over $497 million globally, becoming Sony's largest animated film of all-time, topping Hotel Transylvania 2 ($474.8m). Sony's only other title to top $100 million was the July release of The Equalizer 2 which has since gone on to deliver $101.5 million domestically.
Overall, Sony is currently pacing +4% ahead of 2017 with $801.5 million domestically as of the end of August and the studio has some interesting titles still to come. In October they'll debut Venom, which is already looking as if it will challenge to become the largest October release ever, followed by Goosebumps 2. Beyond that the studio will release The Girl in the Spider's Web, the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and the Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly comedy Holmes & Watson.
Rounding out the summer's top five is 20th Century Fox, which saw 94% of its summer box office come from one movie, that being Deadpool 2. The superhero sequel accounted for $318.5 million of the studio's $339.1 million in summer box office receipts. Fox's only other new release over the summer months was The Darkest Minds, which has so far managed just $12.6 million domestically on a $34 million budget. Therefore, it's no surprise Fox is currently pacing -24.5% behind 2017 with $745.9 million as of the end of August. Looking ahead, this weekend's release of The Predator should top the weekend box office, but has found its own share of controversy leading up to release, but releases such as Bohemian Rhapsody (11/2), Widows (11/16) and Alita: Battle Angel (12/21) could help right the ship.
It's also important to look just outside the top five where we find Paramount Pictures, which is enjoying a much better year than last year. As of the end of August, the studio was pacing +43% ahead of 2017 thanks to films such as A Quiet Place and summer hits Book Club and, of course, Mission: Impossible - Fallout. Fallout has so far brought in over $212 million domestically and over $727 million worldwide becoming the highest grossing global release of the franchise and will soon become the highest domestic release of the franchise once it tops Mission: Impossible II's $215.4 million. While Paramount is still a long way away from getting back to the point where they are delivering $1+ billion in yearly domestic box office grosses, 2018 is serving as something of a bright spot compared to their disastrous 2017.
Overall, as of the end of August, 2018 was the fastest year ever to top $8 billion, pacing +3.1% ahead of 2016 's record year, which saw domestic grosses reach $11.37 billion. While the gap between 2018 and 2016 has closed over the past couple months it's no doubt 2018 has been a strong year at the cinema thus far. Beyond all the titles that have been mentioned, a few that didn't find their way into the conversation above include the likes of Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman and A24's Hereditary, two summer releases that topped $40 million domestically on $15 million and $10 million budgets respectively. This summer also saw documentaries such as RBG, Won't You be My Neighbor? and Three Identical Strangers deliver double digit grosses, led by Won't You Be My Neighbor?'s $22.5 million domestic gross and counting.
Finally, the end of the summer also took us to the end of the month of August and, as always, a list of selected films that closed out their domestic runs last month is featured below, in descending order by cumulative gross. Of the lot, the year's highest grossing release and third highest grossing domestic release of all-time, Black Panther completed its run after 175 days in release, becoming only the third film ever to top $700 million at the domestic box office and has grossed over $1.346 billion worldwide, the ninth best all-time).
- Black Panther (Disney) - Closed with $700.06M after 175 days in release
- A Quiet Place (Par) - Closed with $188.02M after 119 days in release
- Book Club (Par) - Closed with $68.57M after 84 days in release
- Blockers (Uni) - Closed with $60.15M after 119 days in release
- Life of the Party (WB) - Closed with $52.86M after 84 days in release
- Breaking In (2018) (Uni) - Closed with $46.54M after 84 days in release
- Hereditary (A24) - Closed with $44.07M after 84 days in release
- Isle Of Dogs (Fox Searchlight) - Closed with $32.02M after 161 days in release
- Adrift (STX) - Closed with $31.45M after 63 days in release
- Superfly (Sony) - Closed with $20.55M after 58 days in release
- Show Dogs (Global Road) - Closed with $17.81M after 87 days in release
- Chappaquiddick (Ent Studios) - Closed with $17.4M after 118 days in release
- Upgrade (BH Tilt) - Closed with $11.92M after 63 days in release
- Unfriended: Dark Web (BH Tilt) - Closed with $8.78M after 28 days in release
- Sanju (FIP) - Closed with $7.91M after 49 days in release
- First Reformed (A24) - Closed with $3.45M after 77 days in release
- Hearts Beat Loud (Gunpowder & Sky) - Closed with $2.39M after 84 days in release
- Pope Francis - A Man of His Word (Focus) - Closed with $1.93M after 77 days in release
- The Seagull (Sony Classics) - Closed with $1.25M after 98 days in release
For a complete look at the 2018 Summer movie season's calendar grosses click here and for a look at all the new releases during the season click here. Additionally, to find August's box office results, you'll see calendar grosses here and grosses for all of the month's new releases here.
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