Winner - Incredibles 2
It’s been 14 years since Brad Bird made his Pixar debut with The Incredibles, a savvy and mega stylish superhero movie that combined genre satire, family comedy and impeccably done action. As Pixar moved more heavily into franchising their output – Toy Story 4 is on the horizon, following movies like Monsters University, Finding Dory and Cars 3 – it seemed inevitable that the Parr family would get a second outing. But how would audiences react to a second Incredibles movie almost a decade and a half since the first one, and in an era where superhero movies are the bedrock of Hollywood?
Incredibles 2 opened to record breaking numbers. Its $180m opening weekend represented a new peak for animated films and was also the eighth largest opening of all time domestically. It topped $1bn worldwide, but the most surprising fact about that number is that the majority of that gross - over 55% - came from American audiences. This was a major tent-pole release that did not need to rely on international numbers for the lion's share of its box office take. Given continuing fears that North American audiences are rejecting the cinematic experience, this can certainly be chalked up as a major victory in Disney's corner.
Loser – The Darkest Minds
The young adult boom that followed the successes of Twilight and The Hunger Games feels like an era away. It’s only been a few years since these franchise adaptations of wildly popular YA novels were bringing in billions of dollars at the box office, yet more recent efforts have offered increasingly diminishing returns. While a slew of paranormal romance movies followed in the sparkly footsteps of Twilight, to mixed results, the dystopian copycats of The Hunger Games seemed to have shorter shelf lives. Earlier in 2018, the final and long-delayed film in The Maze Runner series, The Death Cure, opened to disappointing returns. The Divergent series didn’t even get an ending as its third film flopped hard enough for the franchise to be shelved completely.
The Darkest Minds marked the live-action debut of Kung Fu Panda 2 director Jennifer Yuh Nelson and starred Amandla Stenberg, who played Rue in The Hunger Games. The adaptation of Jennifer Bracken’s popular dystopian series looked good on paper – a group of teenagers with mysterious powers escape an internment camp and go on the run from the government – but it couldn’t help but feel hopelessly out of trend by the time it premiered. In its opening weekend, it barely scraped to the number 8 spot on the box office with a gross of $5.8m from 3127 theatres.
The books have their fans, but they never reached the stratospheric heights of success that made The Hunger Games so huge, so there wasn’t much of a built-in fanbase for the film. Add to that mediocre reviews and general disinterest on the genre and this one sank on arrival. YA trends come and go, and often it’s tough for Hollywood to keep up. Here’s hoping Stenberg’s next YA movie, an adaptation of the political drama The Hate U Give, fares better.
Winner – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
J.A. Bayona's sequel to Colin Trevorrow's successful 2015 reboot Jurassic World may not have thrilled critics much, but it did prove one thing for sure: audiences still love dinosaurs. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has so far grossed more than $1.27 billion worldwide since its mid-June release, with the bulk of that box office take (68%) coming from overseas markets. The movie did particularly well in China, where it grossed a staggering $248 million - proving once again that a successful release in China has the power to make or break a blockbuster (though in this case, the movie would have done just fine even without that extra quarter-million).
It may have been divisive among fans and critics, but there's no denying that the reboot of the Jurassic Park franchise has been a massive commercial success for Universal Pictures, and we won't have to wait long for the next movie. Jurassic World 3 is set for release in 2021, with Trevorrow returning to direct a story that will deal with the fallout of Fallen Kingdom's game-changing ending.