Last summer, the domestic box office suffered some of its worst returns in years. Major franchise movies like Transformers: The Last Knight and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales under-performed, while big-budget follies like King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets cost their respective studios hundreds of millions of dollars. Audiences just didn’t seem too enthused by what was on offer, and so the industry saw new attendance lows. Coming into this summer, many feared a repeat of 2017.
Fortunately, this year saw the box office burst back to full health. The season was helped by more unmissable event films than the previous year, with some much-anticipated blockbusters that broke box office records at home and abroad. As the season rolls to a close, we take a look at the biggest hits and disasters of summer 2018.
- This Page: Infinity War, Deadpool 2, and Solo
- Page 2: Hereditary, Eighth Grade, and Skyscraper
- Page 3: Incredibles 2, Jurassic World 2, and The Darkest Minds
- Page 4: Mission: Impossible - Fallout, Won't You Be My Neighbor?, and The Meg
Winner - Avengers: Infinity War
The definition of a summer movie continues to be stretched. Previously, summer was clearly boxed off as the period between June and August, but now it can stretch as far back as April to include all of Hollywood’s blockbuster plans. Disney and Marvel are largely to blame for this trend, as their indomitable might has reached levels where they can release a film at any point in the year and have it be a smash hit. Case in point: Avengers: Infinity War made a surprise release date move from May to mid-April.
Whatever way you define summer, it’s hard to deny that Infinity War was the clear winner this year. The numbers speak for themselves: $2.045bn worldwide, making it the 4th highest grossing movie of all time, and one of only four movies ever to pass $2bn. It broke pre-sales records and had the second highest ever opening day gross in America. It stayed in the box office top ten for nine weeks, and is still playing in certain theaters.
Marvel has had a strong grasp on the box office all year. Ant Man and The Wasp wasn’t a meteoric hit domestically, but it held on strong and has yet to open in some the international markets. Yet the real sign of their strength lies in a film that came out in February: Black Panther. Ryan Coogler’s film is the second highest grossing film of 2018 behind its Avenging sibling. It also did something that even Infinity War couldn’t: It passed $700m domestically. Only three films have ever done that, and Black Panther is the first Marvel movie to do so. It’s impossible to overlook Black Panther’s commercial, critical and cultural impact. The fact that audiences were still able to see it in the cinema in August is a testament to that.
Loser - Solo: A Star Wars Story
It seemed inevitable that this new era of Star Wars, where audiences are spoiled with a new film every year, would result in a flop eventually. For many, that label was stuck on Solo: A Star Wars Story from day one, but fears were only exacerbated when original directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, were sacked midway through production. Ron Howard took over directing duties, extensive reshoots took place (which pushed the budget to $250m), and Disney and Lucasfilm decided to keep the movie’s May 2018 release. While reviews were solid, the buzz was tepid and audiences just didn’t seem all that interested in a Han Solo origin story.
11 weeks into its release and Solo has yet to make back its budget domestically. Worldwide, it's barely scraped past $390m, which will lead to a major write-off for both Disney and Lucasfilm. In terms of true box office flops this summer, Solo is really the only disaster, although it's unlikely Disney or Lucasfilm will struggle much in the aftermath given the gargantuan successes of everything else on their slate.
Winner - Deadpool 2
Surprising no one, the Merc With a Mouth came back with style in his big summer sequel, Deadpool 2, which introduced Josh Brolin as Cable and laid the groundwork for upcoming team-up movie X-Force (although the first version of X-Force turned out to be a bit of a false start). Deadpool 2 didn't quite manage to surpass the first movie, grossing $733 million worldwide compared to Deadpool's $783 million - but of course, the first Deadpool movie didn't have Infinity War to contend with. There's no question that this was a big win for 20th Century Fox, and overall both fans and critics seemed satisfied. We also got a great new Céline Dion song out of it.