Warner Bros. and 'The Nun' Lead Second Highest Grossing September Ever
by Brad Brevet
October 10, 2018
September 2018 delivered some stellar numbers, finishing as the second largest September of all-time behind last year's record performance. That said, while over 40% of September 2017's calendar gross was attributed to one film alone — Warner Bros.'s It — 2018's top earner — WB's The Nun — accounted for just 16.4% of the month's total gross, serving as evidence of a more, well-rounded month altogether. Additionally, for the third year in a row, WB led the month of September, and, like last year, dominated the competition, serving as the only studio to not only bring in over $100 million for the month, but by bringing in nearly $235 million from seven films in release.
As already mentioned, WB's release of New Line's The Nun led the way in September, bringing in just over $109 million over the course of the month. Following a franchise record opening of $53.8 million early in the month, The Nun has since gone on to gross over $113 million domestically and nearly $350 million worldwide to become the second largest domestic release in the Conjuring franchise and the largest worldwide release of the now five-film series. Overall, WB brought in $234.2 million in September from seven films, placing it ahead of Universal in second place by nearly $155 million.
When it comes to WB's recent success, The Nun is just the studio's latest hit, arriving on the heels of The Meg and Crazy Rich Asians which helped the studio lead the way in August, and now A Star is Born has already gotten off to a great start in October. The studio's yearly grosses are still trailing last year's $2+ billion performance by -23.8%, but with titles such as Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and Aquaman on the horizon there is still time to continue to close the gap.
Universal landed in second place for the month led by the release of The House with a Clock in Its Walls, which accounted for more than 50% of the studio's $79.6 million in August after opening on September 21. Also aiding the studio's September performance was the late September release of Night School, which opened with $27.2 million over the last three days of the month. As of now, Universal ranks as the third highest grossing studio for 2018, bringing in $1.16 billion as of the end of September.
The studio currently trails its 2017 performance by -14%, but still has a hefty, seven new releases still to hit theaters this year. Of that lot, potential standouts include the upcoming release of Halloween, Illumination's The Grinch in November and Peter Jackson's Mortal Engines in December. The studio also has the Oscar-hopeful First Man hitting theaters this weekend after a strong, yet somewhat controversial, premiere on the fall film festival circuit.
Sony rolls into third for the month thanks to a couple of $20+ million earners — the platform release of Searching and Studio 8's White Boy Rick. Of course, between those two films, Searching was made on a minuscule budget while White Boy Rick was a $29 million production that has so far only generated $23.3 million domestically. Year to date, Sony ranks as the fourth highest grossing studio for 2018 with $840.3 million to its credit. That's +6.8% ahead of where they were at the end of September last year and 2018 currently ranks as their best year since 2014.
Looking ahead, Sony will take another stab at the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series with The Girl in the Spider's Web in early November followed by the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and the comedy Holmes and Watson jockeying for eyeballs in December.
Lionsgate was the fourth highest grossing studio in September thanks largely to the impressive performance of A Simple Favor. The Paul Feig-directed thriller stars Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick and after pulling in just over $43 million in September, the film is currently just shy of crossing $50 million as of publication. Overall, Lionsgate has been having a bit of an off year with 2018 domestic grosses so far totaling just over $325 million, down almost -50% compared to 2017 with only the Gerard Butler submarine thriller Hunter Killer and the latest reimagining of Robin Hood left to hit theaters.
Rounding out the September top five is Fox, which really only had one film in release and that was the mid-September debut of The Predator. Budgeted at $88 million, the studio's latest attempt to revive the franchise, which began nearly 30 years ago, has so far amassed just over $50 million domestically and $123 million worldwide. Overall, Fox is also having a down year so far with 2018 grosses totaling $793.8 million as of the end of September, down -24.5% compared to 2017. The studio does still have Bohemian Rhapsody and Widows arriving in November, along with the not-so-mysterious Untitled Deadpool Movie in late December.
One studio not yet mentioned is Disney, which hasn't released a film since August 3 and yet still leads the year by a hefty margin. So far Disney has brought in over $2.75 billion in 2018, more than doubling the total grosses for both Warner Bros. and Universal, and it won't be until The Nutcracker and the Four Realms on November 2 that Disney will usher a new release into theaters. Following that, the studio will finish off the year with Ralph Breaks the Internet and Mary Poppins Returns as they set their sights on once again topping $3 billion domestically. Disney became the first studio ever to reach that mark in 2016.
Overall, 2018 is still pacing +8.8% ahead of last year as well as ~4% ahead of 2016, which saw the domestic box office deliver a record $11.37 billion. On top of that, 2018 has already topped $9 billion in domestic ticket sales, the fastest any year has reached that mark.
Finally, a list of selected films that closed out their domestic runs in September is featured below, in descending order by cumulative gross. Among the lot is Disney and Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War, which finished with $678.8 million domestically, ranking fourth all-time, and over $2 billion worldwide, also ranking fourth all-time.
Disney also closed out the domestic run for Solo: A Star Wars Story, which fell short of expectations, closing out with $213.7 million domestically while bringing in $392.8 million worldwide. WB's Ocean's 8 came to the end of its run after 105 days in release just shy of $140 million, outperforming both Ocean's Twelve and Thirteen domestically,.
Additionally, Sony's The Equalizer 2 managed to squeak by the original domestically with $102 million while still about ~$5 million behind worldwide raising the question as to whether they can get Denzel Washington back for one more to complete the trilogy.
For a complete look at September's box office results, find calendar grosses here and grosses for all of the month's new releases here.
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