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From Infinity War to The Walking Dead, genre fare dominated 2018: Here are the numbers

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Dec 26, 2018, 9:39 AM EST

In a year that felt like a pre-apocalyptic sci-fi film anyways, genre entertainment offered plenty of escape, delight, and comfort to fans all over the world. In fact, in a year that saw big milestones for genre fans (like Action Comics #1000 over at DC), sci-fi, fantasy, and horror were some of the most successful films, TV shows, and video games out there (not to mention the music soundtracking all of them).

But how successful were they? How many records did Black Panther break? How many people watched that Avengers: Endgame trailer? What's up with the Grammys? SYFY WIRE has dug through the data to bring this statistical review of 2018 in genre.


Trailers & Pre-sales

First up, let’s tackle that trailer question. The trailer for Infinity War surpassed by Avengers 4  — ahem, Avengers: Endgame — to become the most-viewed in history within just a day of the latter’s release:

MCU fans were ready to snap up any scrap of information about the movie — even with a teaser that barely gave anything away. But that’s all it took to get fans sold on the movie.

Speaking of, genre films — specifically superhero movies — ran rampant over pre-sale records this year. Aquaman set a pre-sales record for Atom Tickets, passing up the year’s other smash superhero hits Deadpool 2, Black Panther, and Avengers: Infinity War. The latter maintained the Fandango record for pre-sales, though that could be because of Amazon’s developing strategy over the year to reward those buying tickets early.

Box office records

Where Infinity War also shined was the box office proper. Of the 10 highest-grossing films of 2018, nine were genre films. Six were superhero movies (Black Panther, Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Venom, Incredibles 2, Deadpool 2), two were sci-fi (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Ready Player One), and one was a spy-filled action film (Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Tom Cruise’s highest-grossing film ever).

While Infinity War topped the sales this year with over $2 billion, Black Panther, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and Incredibles 2 all earned over $1 billion each — landing them on the list of the top 15 movies of all time. The Incredibles sequel, in fact, became the second-highest-grossing animated film of all time ($1.24 billion), right behind Frozen.

Black Panther broke the record for February opening weekends and Presidents' Day weekends ($242.1 million), surpassing Deadpool, while Ryan Coogler also landed the best opening weekend ever for a black director. Even its soundtrack cleaned up, as Kendrick Lamar's Black Panther: The Album, Music From and Inspired By was the 12th best-selling album of the year (it went platinum with 209,000 records sold back in July). The movie also set records for Monday box office earnings, superhero origin stories, and solo superhero films — all during a part of the year that is traditionally light on box office smashes.

All these superhero records were great... yet, when Avengers: Infinity War showed up, most didn’t last long.

Avengers: Infinity War grossed $2 billion worldwide, becoming the fourth-highest-grossing film of all time, making $258 million in its opening weekend in North America. That broke the record for biggest domestic opening weekend, passing The Force Awakens. The film broke the record for Saturday turnout, Sunday turnout, and became only the second movie ever to break the $2 billion mark. Did we mention it’s the highest-earning movie of 2018?

Tom Hardy's Venom, while not as crazy as its Marvel competitors, still made plenty of noise for Sony in a month without many hits. The film earned $10 million from Thursday-night previews, the highest ever in October, and went on to have the best October opening weekend and Monday gross of all time, beating out lost-in-space film Gravity for the latter two.

The final superhero movie of the bunch, Incredibles 2, set records for the biggest domestic opening weekend for both Pixar and any animated film — also beating out Beauty and the Beast to set the record for a PG-rated movie's opening. Sadly, that fishy Aquaman didn't have his solidly-debuting film hit theaters until the end of the year, so its relative box office dominance over Bumblebee and Mary Poppins Returns simply didn't have enough time to stretch its legs and spend the goodwill its acquired through critic and fan response before the calendar turns over.


TV had an equally good year in the genre-verse, with plenty of streaming favorites and network shows alike embracing otherworldly elements in their storytelling.

The biggest splash on the genre side of things over at Netflix, was Mike Flanagan's The Haunting of Hill House, which earned a place on the service’s most-streamed list — though, even off the air, Game of Thrones was the top video-on-demand pick.

Hill House also led the year's Google searches among genre TV shows, second only to Altered CarbonLost in SpaceCobra Kai, Castle Rock, and Westworld were the other top results - totalling six of the top ten most Googled shows. On Twitter, the top shows were The Walking Dead, Supernatural, and Stranger Things.

Looking at more traditional ways of audience engagement, like the Nielson ratings, the only genre show to break into the year's ten most-watched shows was the Lost-esque airline mystery ManifestAmerican Horror Story and The Walking Dead may not have matched the network drama's numbers, but they were both two of the year's most-recorded shows.


Genre-based video games would’ve had an unprecedented year... until Red Dead Redemption 2 came out and left everyone choking on the dust its horse kicked up. But that doesn’t mean games with superheroes and mythological beings didn’t make a splash. The PS4 Spider-Man crushed sales records, selling 3.3 million copies in the first three days of its September release. Added to pre-orders, that meant about a $258 million launch weekend — one that more than doubled that of Spider-Man: Homecoming.


As far as critical assessments, it’s too early to call most of the year’s best, though as the awards races heat up, a few definite contenders have begun to emerge. Best-seller God of War won big at the 2018 Game Awards, earning Best Direction and Best Action-Adventure Game all on top of the grand prize of Game of the Year.

Black Panther and Mary Poppins Returns cleaned up the Golden Globe nominations alongside The Good Place and The Handmaid’s Tale, while critics' organizations have been loving Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Even the Grammys have been showing genre love, nominating an entirely genre-filled roster for their Best Score Soundtrack category.

While we won’t know Golden Globe winners or Oscar fare for a while yet, it’s already clear in mid-December that 2018 was a year run by genre — and 2019 doesn’t look like it’ll be any different.