COLUMN: 2018 Box Office Predictions

  (Image: Film Daily)

(Image: Film Daily)

The runaway success of Marvel’s Black Panther at the domestic and worldwide box office has been turning heads and raising brows for a month since its President’s Day weekend release.  The film recently topped the $1 billion mark for worldwide earnings, the 33rd film in history to do so.  Black Panther passed The Dark Knight to become the 7th highest-grossing film of all-time and is about $62 million away from passing The Avengers to become the top comic book earner on the list.  

With Black Panther showing no signs of slowing down, what films coming in 2018 can make similar dents in our wallets?  What blockbusters could put up big time numbers? Can anything catch Black Panther?  I know the oddsmakers and informative websites like Sports Betting Dime can be a great resource for answering those questions and examining the field.   In a quick list and editorial, let’s handicap and predict 10 contenders that could rule the 2018 box office.


1. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR

Nothing is bigger than this culmination step of the Avengers: Infinity War.  Disney/Marvel has been building to this for over six years.  Betting estimates out there say Avengers: Infinity War is expected to collect estimated worldwide earnings of $1.6 billion.  I think that’s a conservative estimate.  If anything, Black Panther gives this next film yet another boost from the hot commodity it already was.  I think this will be the fourth film in history to cross $2 billion globally. Flirting with the same domestic $900+ million of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a possibility.


2. JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM

Three years ago, the nostalgia factor plus the red-hot Chris Pratt catapulted Jurassic World to over $650 million at the domestic box office and over one billion internationally.  That $1.67 billion combination made it the fourth-highest worldwide earner ever, only behind Titanic, Avatar, and its fellow 2015 blockbuster champ Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  With the prospect of an improved film from a better director (J.A. Bayona of A Monster Calls) and the comeback of an original star Jeff Goldblum on the heels of slaying it in Thor: Ragnarok, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom should absolutely rake.  


3. BLACK PANTHER

I don’t think anything is catching Black Panther other than its united Marvel brethren and some newfangled dinosaur thrills.  Wouldn’t that be something if we had three $600+ million earning domestic films in one year?  I think it’s entirely possible by the time Black Panther finishes its box office run flirting with a $650 million final stateside total.  It’s all well-deserved.


4. SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY

No matter how much the production trials and tribulations have supposedly maligned Solo: A Star Wars Story, the Star Wars label alone is worth $500 million domestically.  Fans can gripe all they want, but they still fork over their dough.  I’ll believe any boycott when I see it. This prequel has a clear path with the Memorial Day holiday weekend all to itself.  It’s too big to fail.


5. THE INCREDIBLES 2

Disney/Pixar sequels have been hit-or-miss at the box office.  For every Toy Story follow-up and Finding Dory smash, there’s a Cars 3 or a Monsters University setback.  That said, even “setback” is too strong of a word when even a “weaker” Pixar film still makes between $300-500 million worldwide.  The Incredibles 2 is a case of “absence away makes the heart grow fonder.”  The only foreseeable trouble might be the strength of its comic book stylings.  The landscape has changed since the 2004 original when its playfulness was kitschy and fresh.  Now, it enters a marketplace oversaturated with comic book films.


6. DEADPOOL 2

The first Deadpool from 2016 set the world on fire with a $363 million-and-change total domestic take.  It broke down the door for R-rated comic films and the sequel gets to build on the fun and popularity of the first.  Comedy is fickle, but Deadpool 2 should open strong, even though it’s moving from the empty February it score on the first time to the crowded summer schedule.


7. RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2

For the last six years, every Disney Animation Studio film has earned over $200 million at the domestic box office with two billion-dollar hits in there (Frozen and Zootopia).  There’s no reason to think the second Wreck-It Ralph film can’t get a big bite of that over the popular and fertile Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  Competition will be low with only The Grinch remake and the next film on this list happening during the same month.


8. FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD

The J.K. Rowling universe label boosted 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to a worldwide bank of over $814 million.  Even if this offshoot doesn’t have the Harry Potter sizzle domestically, international audiences lap it up.  Expect the sequel to fade some from the first yet still make a strong $700-800 million globally.


9. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT

The last two entries to fill this top ten are tricky ones.  I think there are a big drop and several directions the box office can go.  After The Mummy last year, we now have to question Tom Cruise’s formerly indestructible U.S. bankability.  While that film tanked stateside, it collected over $300 million overseas to keep it out of the red side of the ledger.  Cruise may be on shaky ground, but if there is one thing he does right every time, it is playing a dynamic Ethan Hunt on the Mission: Impossible series.  Folks will still follow him and his stunts.  Coming off of a hit teaser during the Super Bowl, Mission: Impossible - Fallout looks like reasonably safe bet as a box office winner for 2018.


10. READY PLAYER ONE

For the final spot in this Top 10, I’m skipping past the unproven Venom, the Marvel Lite so-so-ness of Ant-Man and the Wasp, and the quickly diminishing returns of the Transformers franchise for the solo Bumblebee film.  I think Steven Spielberg returns to blockbuster form enough with Ready Player One, even though it’s sandwiched in an empty March with Avengers: Infinity War on its horizon.  Early buzz from its SXSW is overwhelmingly positive.  Don’t call it a comeback!


OTHER CONTENDERS:

Bumblebee, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Venom, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, The Grinch, Creed 2, Mortal Engines, Aquaman, Alita: Battle Angel, Mary Poppins Returns, Oceans 8, Rampage, Tomb Raider

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