The movie industry is more competitive than ever. Summer used to be the designated season for the Hollywood's biggest releases, but now big-budget films drop year-round and partake in vicious competition at the box office. The world's largest studios all place their bets on a handful of big projects, whether it be a classic franchise, an iconic superhero, or a new property that has the potential to be the next big thing. Sometimes it works out, and other times studios find themselves trying to recover from financial disasters that were once promising films.
2018 was a big year for blockbusters — while many may come and go, there are some definitive winners and losers if you only look at what matters: ticket sales. For this list, we're going to take a look at 2018's biggest box office flops as well as the hits that the entire world rushed out to see. First though, we should clarify some things. When discussing box office, we are only talking about ticket sales. While many of these flops may have found a renewed lifespan on home release, that won't impact our list.
Keep in mind that the numbers we are talking about are international (unless specified), and that many of the production budgets listed are not completely accurate. Production budgets that are made public are only what studios admit to spending on any given film — they're often estimations that don't count marketing expenses, which are sometimes just as costly as production itself!
Here are the 14 Biggest Box Office Flops Of 2018 (And 11 Massive Hits).
25 Flop — Mortal Engines
Another young adult franchise is seemingly DOA, as Mortal Engines went from a vaguely intriguing steampunk adventure to a massive box office flop. Produced by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, the film tells the tale of a post-apocalyptic world where city-states literally drive around on giant engines waging war against each other.
Unfortunately, a unique premise and gorgeous visuals weren't enough to save it. Despite a production budget of $100 million, it only made $62 million at the box office in 2018. With an abysmal opening weekend and plenty of competition in theaters, Mortal Engines is a financial blunder for Universal Studios.
24 Flop — Solo: A Star Wars Story
It may have sounded like a great idea to Disney and Lucasfilm — a spin-off about Han Solo, one of most popular Star Wars characters, with plenty of fan-service along the way. Sadly though, Solo: A Star Wars story turned into a misfire. After plenty of behind-the-scenes struggles (including replacing initial directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller with Ron Howard well into shooting), the film turned out uneven and expensive.
With a production budget of $275 million, Solo only made $392 million worldwide — and that isn't counting the money spent on marketing. It's not a total bomb, but it's a horrible financial performance for one of the most successful film franchises in history.
23 Hit — Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Despite being what many consider to be the first outright bad film in the Wizarding World franchise, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is a financial hit. It's not the wallet-shattering success that Warner Bros. likely expected it to be, but it has made $627 million with its $200 million-dollar budget.
It's the lowest grossing film in the Harry Potter universe to date and performed markedly worse than the original Fantastic Beasts. With that said, it maybe be only a minor setback for the brand — it still made a ton of money and has a sequel on the way.
22 Flop — The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
In case you didn't notice this flop — and it seems like most people didn't — Disney released a reboot of the classic story of The Nutcracker back in November. Despite the ample production budget of $120 million, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms brought in only $166 million at the box office as well harsh criticism from most who ventured to see it.
Aside from the gorgeous visuals, the film couldn't entertain audiences nor draw big crowds to the cinema. It also hit theaters with heavy competition, between films like The Grinch, Creed II, Ralph Breaks the Internet, and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
21 Flop — The Girl In The Spider's Web
The Girl in the Spider's Web didn't fare anywhere near as well as its 2011 predecessor, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. While the first film was a major critical and minor financial success, the reboot-sequel hybrid didn't seem to attract much attention, despite dropping during a relatively quiet box office period in October.
With a production budget of $43 million, The Girl in the Spider's Web only managed to rake in around $34 million dollars. Not only did the thriller come and go, but it was met with lukewarm reviews that might have dissuaded any potential viewers anyway.
20 Hit — Mission Impossible: Fallout
Spy thriller fans got their fix this year with a film that took the world by storm. Mission Impossible: Fallout and its $178 million-dollar budget made an insane $791 million worldwide, and it had everything going for it. Between the star power of Tom Cruise, the great cast, the practical stunts, and the fantastic word-of-mouth, this became one of the only box-office smashes of 2018 that wasn't a superhero film.
These movies keep getting better, and as a result, they keep making more and more money with each release. It's safe to say that Mission Impossible earned itself many new fans who are all waiting to see how the sequel could possibly top this one.
19 Flop — The Happytime Murders
"Who Framed Roger Rabbit but with puppets instead of cartoons" was probably a well-received pitch, but the rest of the world didn't seem so enthused. The Happytime Murders was a major box-office flop this year, making only $27 million at the box office with a production budget of $40 million. Add marketing costs onto that, and it's likely that the movie performed way worse than the studio let on.
From the very first trailer-drop, Happytime Murders was controversial. Critics would go on to disparage the film for its unnecessarily vulgar humor, and the production was even sued by Sesame Workshop — the people behind Sesame Street — for potentially harming their child-friendly brand.
18 Hit — Ant Man and the Wasp
It's not the biggest Marvel hit of the year, but Ant-Man and the Wasp still made a giant-sized profit at the international box office. Marvel fans must have been eager for something light and fun after Avengers: Infinity War, because the film made $622 million on a $162 million-dollar production budget.
That performance is fine for the Marvel Cinematic Universe — it's one of the lesser franchises in its pantheon — but it made more than the first Ant-Man film, and still managed to be one of the highest grossing movies of the year. It's an impressive feat, especially during the crowded summer and Marvel-saturated year at the box office.
17 Flop — Death Wish
Critics saw Death Wish as yet another bland, unnecessary remake. It took $30 million to make, but only earned $34 million at the worldwide box office. The movie was plagued by bad timing, too. The release of the film — initially on November 22nd, 2017 — was delayed until March 2018 partially due to the mass shooting in Las Vegas.
Seeing as the film features plenty of gory gun violence, a delay seemed strategic. However, the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida happened right before the March release date. The studio went ahead with the release, and evidently nobody wanted to be reminded of such awful tragedies.
16 Flop — Annihilation
Alex Garland's Annihilation is one of the best-reviewed science fiction movies of the year. Tense, imaginative, and featuring a star-studded cast, the film still has fans raving about the way it handles its themes and that nightmarish action sequence involving a bear. Unfortunately, cerebral and ambiguous sci-fi is rarely a recipe for box office success.
Despite the terrific critical response, Annihilation only made a bit more than $32 million on a $40 million dollar budget, having quickly been passed off to Netflix for its international release. Alex Garland's previous film, Ex Machina, was a lower-budget sci-fi feature that was much more successful at the box office.
15 Hit — Bohemian Rhapsody
Never underestimate the power of Queen. Despite mixed reviews and a troubled production — including the firing of director Bryan Singer — Bohemian Rhapsody made a whopping $702 million at the box office on a budget of $52 million.
On top of having much of Queen's discography on full display, the film was praised for its fantastic musical sequences and the exceptional performance of Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury. The movie has been criticized for its cliché narrative structure as well as many glaring factual inaccuracies, but it is an undeniable hit with audiences. It is the highest grossing musical biopic ever made.
14 Flop — Gotti
With a desperate marketing campaign that urged viewers to ignore critics, Gotti only dug itself into a deeper hole. The movie's already limited release was hindered further by an onslaught of critical derision. Nearly every aspect of the film was criticized: pacing, writing, acting — everything aside from makeup, it seems.
Gotti's official twitter lashed out against poor reviews, calling critics "trolls" and practically begging for people to see the movie. The Rotten Tomatoes score was reportedly manipulated to make the film look better as well, creating a controversy that continued to turn people away. With a budget of $10 million, it only made $4.3 million in theaters.
13 Hit — Deadpool 2
Just like the original film, Deadpool 2 ran away with everyone's money as the one of the highest grossing movies of the year. With the addition of Cable and the debut of several X-Men characters, the film easily drew comic book fans to theaters along with moviegoers looking for a great comedy.
Deadpool 2 turned in $741 million against a $110 million production budget. Technically, those box office returns are incomplete as a PG-13 re-cut of the movie titled Once Upon a Deadpool is currently in theaters, giving the film a second shot at box office glory. As if it needed another.
12 Flop — Early Man
Aardman Animation, the studio behind Wallace and Gromit, returned to their trademark stop-motion comedy with the release of Early Man. The film tells the story of a cavemen tribe that must protect their home from invaders by playing soccer. Critics reviewed it fairly well — the film holds an 81% on Rotten Tomatoes — however audiences did not seem to agree.
The divided reception and decidedly childish tone (and the fact that it released on the same day as Black Panther) didn't help its lifespan. With little to no buzz and competition with a franchise juggernaut, Early Man only pulled in just over $54 million against its $50 million-dollar budget.
11 Hit — Venom
Venom drew harsh criticism from pretty many critics. It lacks a connection to Spider-Man and the Marvel universe, and it seems weirdly dated — as if it came from the gaggle of superhero movies from the early '00s that studios have since improved upon. Nevertheless, Venom's strange qualities also appear to be its charm, as it's a certified box office hit with audiences.
On a $100 million-dollar production budget, Venom raked in $855 million at the worldwide box office. Box Office Mojo attributed over 75 percent of that take to foreign markets. This means a Venom sequel is inevitable, whether the critics want one or not.
10 Flop — The Hurricane Heist
When's the last time anyone saw a genuinely well-constructed disaster movie? It probably wasn't in 2018, and it definitely wasn't The Hurricane Heist. When a group of thieves decide that the best cover for their robbery is to pull it off during a category 5 hurricane, box office disaster ensues.
With a budget of $35 million, The Hurricane Heist managed to make a little under $31 million worldwide. Even though it dropped on a relatively uncrowded box office weekend, it was lambasted by critics and could hardly make a dent. It's opening weekend racked up $3 million domestically, but by its third weekend, it could only scrounge up $105,000 in ticket sales.
9 Hit — Aquaman
The collective cautious excitement for Aquaman seems to have paid off. The film is DC's first bonafide hit since Wonder Woman, ruling the box office for two major holiday weekends. The film's first weekend was crucial — both for the potential franchise and the floundering DC Extended Universe — but Aquaman has already made $751 million worldwide on its $160 million production budget.
While reviews are mixed, Aquaman appears to be in for smooth sailing compared to the DC film that drowned before it. Justice League only pulled $657 million worldwide in its entire run, so it seems Aquaman works better solo.
8 Flop — The Darkest Minds
Here's another post-apocalyptic, dystopian, young adult franchise that cinemas will never hear from again. The Darkest Minds is an X-Men-alike about teens who receive superpowers after a plague wipes out a chunk of the population. Segregated into "classes" based on danger levels, these super-teenagers must escape captivity and join the revolution.
The movie was panned for being yet another indistinct YA film transparently yearning for a franchise. With a production budget of $34 million, The Darkest Minds took in $41 million worldwide after an abysmal opening weekend of $5 million here in the US. The film fared better in foreign markets, but it's still a major flop.
7 Hit — The Incredibles 2
The Incredibles is a favorite among fans of superheroes and animation. A sequel seemed like a no-brainer, but considering it took Pixar over a decade to make one, the hype was immeasurable.
Naturally, the $200 million it took to make Incredibles 2 turned into a jaw-dropping $1.2 billion at the box office. It garnered fair amount of praise from critics as well — while many see it as inferior to the original, it retains the same magic and sets an especially high financial bar for Pixar's next sequel, Toy Story 4.
6 Flop — A Wrinkle In Time
It seems that director Ava Duvernay's ambitious adaptation of the famous novel did not pay off. A Wrinkle in Time was met with mixed reviews upon release, with many praising the visual direction and empowering tone while criticizing the film's uneven pacing.
The movie does have its fans, but not enough to save it from being a flop. A Wrinkle in Time took in $132 million worldwide on its $100 million budget. The film's extensive marketing campaign was probably a costly expense as well, making this one of the most unique films that Disney has put out all year, as well as its biggest failure.
5 Hit — Black Panther
How could anyone have missed the box office juggernaut that was Black Panther? The Marvel Cinematic Universe was already a huge success without it— not only did Black Panther put up huge numbers, but it won critics and audiences over instantly, even nabbing a Golden Globe nomination.
The film's $200 million production cost turned into a $1.3 billion-dollar home run at the worldwide box office. That billion-dollar mark is not an easy milestone to reach, either. As of right now, Black Panther is 9th in the worldwide highest grossing films ever made, and it's the only superhero film in the top ten that isn't an Avengers film.
4 Flop — London Fields
Based on the neo-noir novel of the same name, this star-studded movie — Amber Heard, Billy Bob Thornton, Jaimie Alexander, and Johnny Depp to name a few — was plagued by legal trouble. Director Matthew Cullen sued the production company , then the production company sued Amber Heard, then Heard countersued the production company.
All that fuss only to join the hall of shame on Rotten Tomatoes, too — London Fields currently holds a critic score of zero percent. It took $8 million to make, but only managed to pull in just over $250,000 worldwide on a limited release. Ouch!
3 Hit — Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Like the creatures let loose, Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom made a giant mark on this year's box office landscape. Despite worse critical reception than the first Jurassic World — a film that was already somewhat divisive — Fallen Kingdom dwarfed nearly every other blockbuster this year when it came to ticket sales.
Fallen Kingdom turned its $170 million budget into $1.3 billion internationally. A large chunk of its take came from foreign markets, but it still did fairly well domestically. There is only one film that did better than Fallen Kingdom this year — and surely you already know what it is. Hold that thought.
2 Flop — Robin Hood
As if this tale needed yet another stylistic reboot, Robin Hood stars Taron Edgerton and Jamie Foxx — and it did indeed come out this year, since you probably didn't notice. An effects-filled, overblown retread of a story you've heard too many times, it took $100 million to make and earned $73 million at the box office. Marketing costs surely make this an even more expensive loss than the public realizes.
Hopefully studios learn their lesson and give this property an extremely long break — maybe a decade or three!
1 Hit — Avengers: Infinity War
Only the first half of a story ten years in the making, Avengers: Infinity War is this year's box office champion — as if you didn't already know that. What took dozens of A-list stars, 18 prior films, and nearly $400 million to create earned over $2 billion worldwide. Let that sink in.
The sequel, Avengers: Endgame, is set for release in April 2019. Could it possibly match the performance of Infinity War? Time will tell, but in the meantime, we're still crying over the snap. Captain Marvel will make for a nice appetizer, but this box office juggernaut is only the precursor to what will likely be another massive hit.
What are your favorite movies of 2018? Are there any bombs we missed? Make sure to leave a comment and share your thoughts.