With no new wide releases joining our tracking calendar this weekend, we’ve decided to take a look at where the overall market is shaping up to finish by year’s end — and it’s looking like a historic finish.
Based on our tracking models for all major studio films opening between now and and December 31, Boxoffice is projecting 2018 will set a new all-time domestic record gross north of $11.6 billion. That baseline figure would topple 2016’s standing record of $11.38 billion by 2 percent, while also blowing past 2017’s $11.07 billion by nearly 5 percent.
Some models even project a figure over $11.7 billion is well within reach.
How Will We Get There?
2018’s box office has maintained a record pace on a consistent basis throughout most of the year, standing at more than $8.8 billion in revenue through the end of the third quarter* on September 28. We’re currently forecasting the year’s fourth quarter to account for an additional $2.85+ billion in box office sales, representing the period beginning September 29 and ending December 31.
That projection is driven by one of the strongest October markets in years thanks to the presence of Venom, A Star Is Born, and the upcoming Halloween, followed by a packed November slate that could easily see three films cross $200 million individually: The Grinch, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, and Ralph Breaks the Internet.
November’s Bohemian Rhapsody, Creed 2, and Widows should provide further padding as likely mid-range successes, alongside the varying potential of The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, The Girl In the Spider’s Web, Overlord, and Green Book.
If there’s anything resembling a weak spot during the remainder of the year, it may be December — although “weak” is a relative term given how spoiled the industry and audiences have been with massive Star Wars films opening during the Christmas corridor in each of the last three years.
That juggernaut franchise is sitting out this holiday season, but Disney still has an ace up its sleeve with Mary Poppins Returns — a film for which we’ll share early tracking reports in a few weeks, but one that’s already trending like a huge box office hit in the making thanks to stellar social media buzz and very positive trailer reactions.
December will also bring Aquaman, Bumblebee, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — three franchise films that could combine for more than $300 million domestically going into early 2019. Filling out what should still be a solid slate of Christmastime releases will be award season candidates like Clint Eastwood’s The Mule and Adam McKay’s Vice, alongside wild card performers like Mortal Engines, Second Act, and Holmes & Watson.
Essentially, if October and November continue living up to bullish expectations, December won’t need to perform anywhere near the level of last year’s $1.48 billion monthly take in order for 2018 to exceed $11.6 billion.
How High Could 2018 Go?
Current models suggest $11.6 billion may even be slightly conservative as some scenarios position the year finishing between $11.7 billion and $11.8 billion. For that to happen, a great deal would hinge on the ability of November and (especially) December’s releases to meet optimistic expectations and/or over-perform — but a fourth quarter haul north of $3 billion is very possible given the incredible runway October and November are expected to generate.
For comparison, last year’s fourth quarter tallied $2.93 billion even with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and Thor: Ragnarok carrying a huge share at year’s end — but they followed a fairly dismal start in October, and a significant under-performance by Justice League in November.
Disney’s aforementioned Mary Poppins sequel could single-handedly send projections closer to those more optimistic scenarios if the film turns out to be an event-level holiday option for families that fully capitalizes on the nostalgia wave like so many movies have recently.
What’s Behind the 2018 Surge?
Projections early in the year certainly did not call for an annual sum on the level we’re now looking at reaching. There are a number of X factors in any given year — release date changes, quality of product/word of mouth, and others that simply cannot be quantified by numbers. This year has proven to be a perfect storm of surprises with mid-range films (A Quiet Place, The Meg, Crazy Rich Asians, and Venom to name a few) and even some already-presumed blockbusters (Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, The Incredibles 2, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) performing well above lofty expectations.
The months ahead are sure to bring deeper dives into this year’s resurgence. We believe the exhibition industry’s efforts toward expanding premium screen offerings and amenities, as well as the proliferation of subscription services — notably AMC’s A-List (which recently crossed 400,000 subscribers), the rise of Sinemia, and the initial interest in Moviepass before a series of overhauls — have played significant roles in rejuvenating enthusiasm and economic viability for moviegoers to see more films in the theater.
Those and other factors are contributing to more volatile box office forecasts than ever before, and will be key components to account for in future projections as the industry continues to adapt and embrace new business models.
We’ll be back to our regular tracking updates next week. For now, check out our current long range expectations in the table below.
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|Release Date||Title||3-Day Wide Opening||% Chg from Last Week||Domestic Total||% Chg from Last Week||Estimated Location Count||Distributor|
|10/19/2018||The Hate U Give (Wide)||n/a||n/a||2,300||Fox|
|10/26/2018||Hunter Killer||$9,000,000||-18%||$26,000,000||-18%||2,500||Lionsgate / Summit|
|10/26/2018||Johnny English Strikes Again||$4,000,000||$8,750,000||1,600||Universal|
|11/2/2018||Tyler Perry’s Nobody’s Fool||$15,000,000||$40,000,000||Paramount|
|11/2/2018||The Nutcracker and the Four Realms||$21,000,000||5%||$80,000,000||1%||Disney|
|11/2/2018||Suspiria (Wide)||n/a||n/a||Amazon Studios|
|11/9/2018||The Girl in the Spider’s Web||$15,000,000||$45,000,000||Sony / Columbia|
|11/9/2018||Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch||$79,000,000||$305,000,000||Universal|
|11/16/2018||Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald||$75,000,000||$222,000,000||Warner Bros.|
|11/16/2018||A Private War (Expansion)||n/a||n/a||Aviron|
|11/21/2018||The Front Runner (Wide Expansion)||n/a||n/a||Sony|
|11/21/2018||Ralph Breaks the Internet||$50,000,000||$200,000,000||Disney|
|11/21/2018||Robin Hood||$9,500,000||$26,000,000||Lionsgate / Summit|
|11/30/2018||The Possession of Hannah Grace||n/a||n/a||Sony / Columbia|
|12/7/2018||The Silence||n/a||n/a||Global Road|
* = all monthly and quarterly forecasts in the above report are based on the 4-4-5 accounting calendar