Jumanji Dominating January
Interestingly, one of 2018’s biggest box office surprises was in fact a 2017 film. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle opened in theaters on December 20, 2017, a mere five days after Star Wars: The Last Jedi. And while the Disney juggernaut dominated December, once the calendar turned to January, it began to drop and in its place rose Jumanji. In an amazing display of staying power and box office legs, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle rose to number 1, and stayed at number 1, and remained all the way until the last full weekend in January when it fell to number 2. Then, it rose back to number 1 the week after just to remind everyone it was still around.
The Nun Tops The Conjuring Universe
Since James Wan’s 2013 film The Conjuring, the Conjuring Universe has sprung up organically and boasts five films to date with a combined worldwide total of over $1.5 billion. Despite the hit and miss nature of critical responses, the films have been a success at the box office and none more so than this year’s The Nun from director Corin Hardy. Although it came in 2nd behind the original The Conjuring domestically, The Nun bested all of its Conjuring Universe stablemates worldwide with a haul of $365.6 million.
The Black Panther Phenomenon
There’s not much to be said about Black Panther at this point that hasn’t already been said. Simply put, it may not have been the highest-grossing film of 2018, but it was the box office story of the year. It surpassed every other MCU film that’s not an Avengers movie on the worldwide charts with $1.34 billion. Its performance was truly remarkable and showed the financial viability of having an expensive movie with an almost all-black cast.
Documentaries Delivered On The Big Screen
It’s not often that we talk about the box office performances of documentaries. Documentaries seem to get more traction and buzz these days when they are broken up into a series for a streaming service. However, 2018 was a great year for big screen documentaries, evidenced not just by their quality, but by their performances at the box office.
The Rock Isn’t Always Box Office Gold
Dwayne Johnson started 2018 off strong with Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, but the rest of his year didn’t prove quite as fruitful. First he had the latest video game adaptation, this time one of an old 1980s arcade game, in Rampage. Despite the drawing power of The Rock and the brand name of the property, Rampage barely cracked $100 million in its domestic run on a $120 million budget. It went on to do well overseas, lifting it to $428 million worldwide, which is pretty good for a video game adaptation, but it wasn’t what you would call a runaway success.
Incredibles 2 Became Pixar’s Most Successful Film
If you think about Pixar’s most popular brands, properties like Toy Story, Cars and Finding Nemo/Dory are probably the first to come to mind, not The Incredibles. Brad Bird’s 2004 film is in the middle of the pack box office-wise for Pixar and it went over a decade without a sequel. So it came as something of a surprise when this summer, Incredibles 2 performed heroically at the box office to become the most successful Pixar movie ever made and the fourth-biggest film of 2018.
Solo: A Star Wars Story Underperforms
If Black Panther was the positive box office story of the year, coming in at the other end of the spectrum was Solo: A Star Wars Story. This was a Star Wars film, so we were naturally expecting showers of money at the box office, but what actually happened was more of a drought. Solo was the first Star Wars film in the Disney Era to fail to make $1 billion. More than that, its worldwide total was over $100 million less than what the previous spinoff, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, made domestically.
The Mission: Impossible Franchise Keeps Growing
The Mission: Impossible series is one of the most fascinating franchises going these days. Unlike something like the Bond films, which fluctuate in quality drastically from entry to entry, Mission: Impossible seems to keep getting better each time out. That in and of itself defies the norm, but for the sixth film in the over twenty-year-old series to defy the usual box office logic with sequels and surpass all of the previous entries, that is truly surprising.
Crazy Rich Asians Does Crazy Business
Falling in to the category of things that should have been obvious but weren’t, it turns out that audiences that don’t traditionally see themselves represented onscreen, actually like to. That lesson was driven home with August’s Crazy Rich Asians. Based on the novel by Kevin Kwan, Jon M. Chu’s film, which was made for a modest $30 million, made over $174 million domestically and $238 million worldwide.
Venom Obliterates Expectations
If you want to talk about defying expectations, perhaps no 2018 movie better exemplified that than Sony’s Venom. I don’t think it is unfair to say that a not insignificant portion of people expected Sony’s Spider-Verse to be DOA and Venom to be a critical and commercial dud. And critically, Venom was just that, but in one of the truly remarkable examples of critical and audience disconnect, people loved Venom and they expressed that love at the box office.