This year reportedly will be most lucrative ever for the worldwide box office, and studios have their blockbuster genre tentpoles to thank for a record-breaking 2018. In a year that didn’t even feature a mainline Star Wars movie (despite a disappointing showing for Solo: A Star Wars Story), and in the face of the continued rise of at-home movie streaming, theaters over the past 12 months were busy, busy places.
The top of the global movie charts in 2018 was dominated by Thanos, Wakanda, Indoraptors, and, yes, even Marvel’s alien symbiote. With only days left to go before the calendar flips, analytics firm Comscore estimates the worldwide box office has surpassed $40 billion overall for only the second time ever, according to multiple outlets, with Avengers: Infinity War on top. The estimated $41.7 billion in worldwide ticket sales is a new record, besting the $40.6 billion record set last year.
Disney and Marvel were the biggest winners in 2018, with Infinity War’s $1.37 billion haul poised to close out this genre-heavy year. Chasing Thanos for second place at the worldwide box office are Universal’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ($888.2 million), Disney/Marvel’s Black Panther ($647 million), Sony/Marvel’s Venom ($642 million), and Disney’s Incredibles 2 ($634 million).
Domestically, Black Panther finished 2018 with the biggest take ($700 million), followed by Infinity War ($678 million), Incredibles 2 ($608 million), and Fallen Kingdom ($416 million).
Because genre movies are such reliable box-office performers, every studio looks to sci-fi, fantasy, animation, and horror to land its next big hit. That means there were a few tries that inevitably came up short, at least in terms of dollars.
Via Box Office Mojo, Solo: A Star Wars Story managed only $392 million worldwide — hardly bad for most films, but far short of Disney’s high expectations for the Star Wars spinoff (Rogue One, by contrast, eclipsed the $1 billion mark globally in 2016). Elsewhere, Tomb Raider scavenged $274 million, The Predator collected $160 million, A Wrinkle in Time earned $132 million, and Mortal Engines stalled out in theaters with only $55 million.
With a release calendar that’s absolutely crammed with hugely anticipated movies, it’s not difficult to imagine 2019 being another epic year — both for genre films and for the box office as a whole. Marvel will be back in force next year with Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man: Far From Home, and Dark Phoenix, while DC and Warner Bros. will zap Shazam! into theaters as well.
There’s also Toy Story 4, live-action remakes of The Lion King, Aladdin, and Dumbo; Hellboy, Men in Black International, and IT: Chapter Two. Topping it all off? Star Wars: Episode IX, the final film in the Skywalker saga, which warps into theaters next Dec. 20.