Winner – Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Over the course of 22 years, the Mission: Impossible franchise has endured well beyond audience and industry expectations. The series has gone from strength to strength, both commercially and critically, as well as allowing its leading man Tom Cruise to indulge his every movie star whim. It turns out that’s exactly what audiences want from Cruise, whose public image had taken a major hit following his ardent Scientology support. Movie lovers want to see Cruise doing daring stunts and being an old-school action man, something the Mission: Impossible movies offer with gusto.
The sixth addition to the franchise, Fallout, didn’t just delight audiences - it had critics proclaiming it as one of the best action movies ever made. With its formula perfected and the continuing promise of intense stunts as performed by Cruise himself, audiences in America drove Fallout to franchise best numbers in its opening weekend. In its second week, it managed to hold off competition from Disney's Christopher Robin with ease, and it's already made back over double its budget worldwide.
Winner – Documentaries
Traditionally, documentaries have always been popular with audiences, but getting them to leave the house and pay cinema price tickets to see was a different matter. Documentaries are typically viewed as a niche box office interest, akin to foreign language films. It’s also a gap in the market that Netflix have been filling with great success, with their roster of original feature length, short and documentary series picking them up a slew of awards, including an Oscar. Yet this Summer, it seemed that movie-going audiences were hungry for true stories.
The season brought a wide selection of critically acclaimed documentaries that saw bigger than expected box office numbers: RGB, focusing on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; the long-awaited biography of Mr. Rogers, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?; McQueen, centered on the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen; the Sundance hit Three Identical Strangers; and Generation Wealth, a look into the world of the mega rich. The highest grossing documentaries tend to center on divisive politics or concerts of major music stars, so to see a Summer of stories as varied as these documentaries offered getting major love with audiences proved to be one of the real surprises of the season.
Surprise Winner: The Meg
Much to the surprise of basically everyone, Jason Statham's giant shark movie, The Meg, not only managed to top the US box office this weekend with around $44.5m, grossing just under $100m worldwide. That's an impressive showing for a film that's not part of a franchise or established property. For Warner Bros., The Meg also proved to be their biggest opening weekend of 2018 so far, according to the Hollywood Reporter. That's no mean feat given that its studio siblings include Stephen Spielberg's Ready Player One and the recent Ocean's 8.
The overseas grosses were greatly bolstered in China, where Gravity Pictures put up a major portion of the film's budget. For a film with a budget of around $150m and middling reviews, those numbers are a minor miracle. The movie isn't out of deep waters just yet but this is a heartily encouraging start. It seems we can all agree on the majesty of a giant shark.