The Threepeat: Will Disney Hit $8 Billion At the Box-Office in 2018?
For the second year in a row Disney brought in a staggering amount at the global box-office. Not only have they crossed $6 billion two years in a row but in 2017, they hit over $7 billion. While an amazing feat, what’s even more amazing is that 2018 could see them not only three-peat but go even higher. The list of movies coming out under the Disney brand in 2018 is pretty staggering. So let’s go through each film and try to predict what Disney’s end-of-year box office could be.
Marvel Studios has the brand recognition that is rivaled only by LucasFilms at this point. In my list of 2017 winners, I pointed out that while no film in the MCU topped $1 billion last year, every film came in over $800 million. So when it comes to Black Panther there’s a lot of people that immediately jump to “It’s going to make a billion”. And I get the sentiment but I also don’t think a lot of people realize just how difficult hitting the Billion Dollar Box-Office Club is.
First, only 2 solo films in the MCU have hit a Billion Dollars. One was Iron Man 3 which was coming fresh off the heels of Avengers and so that got it a huge push. The second was Captain America: Civil War which was the 3rd Captain America film and more importantly, was basically a mini-Avengers movie itself. When it comes to the first film for a solo character, Doctor Strange holds the top honor with $677 million.
Now all that said, there’s a lot of things that work in Black Panther’s favor for a huge box office. First, Black Panther is probably the most anticipated solo film Marvel Studios has ever done. It’s actually hard to compare this film to anything anticipation wise that Marvel has done because of the cultural significance. I think the best comparison is to head over to Marvel’s competitor DC and look at what Wonder Woman accomplished. Wonder Woman topped out at $821 million last year. That’s with DC sleeping at the wheel when it came to promotion, something Marvel isn’t doing. Already we’ve seen promotions and interviews targeting black women, international promotion and merchandise. This is the first black super hero getting his first solo movie and Marvel isn’t pulling any punches. The trailers have all trended instantly and add to the fact that this movie should tie directly into Infinity War and that billion dollar number seems pretty reachable. The hype and anticipation for this movie can’t be understated. Representation matters and Disney & Marvel are banking on that for a huge return.
Prediction: $850 Million - $1 Billion. I really wanted to go conservative here but this is one of the few times when people say “It's gonna do a billion?” and it could actually be true. At the very least I see this being the top grossing of all of initial solo films for any character. The only way it could fall short is overseas but so far it doesn’t look like it. Months before Marvel goes hard with promotion early tracking already has the film opening at $95 million and that’s just going to keep growing. I see this opening domestically at $120-$140 and the weeks after its release are wide open for it having a long run at #1.
A Wrinkle in Time
I came across an article from 2014 that predicted that A Wrinkle In Time would fail. Four years later, I’m pretty sure the author of that piece would like a do-over. To be fair, in 2014, Ava DuVernay wasn’t on a lot of people’s radar and she definitely hadn’t been tapped to direct this movie. Since Selma, DuVernay has not only been outspoken about diversity and inclusion in Hollywood but she’s “lived her raps” with Queen Sugar, 13th and #BlackGirlMagic moments like directing an Apple Music commercial and more recently, Jay-Z & Beyonce music video. And Disney has definitely noticed. They wanted her for Black Panther and when that didn’t work out, they offered A Wrinkle In Time. And you can’t tell me that Kathleen Kennedy and Rian Johnson aren’t chopping at the bit to offer her a Star Wars movie at some point.
With Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time, Disney is doing something that most studios don’t do: They listened. After watching films like Hidden Figures and Girls Trip “over perform”, Disney asked “Maybe they’re not over performing, maybe we just need to make films that target black women”. So Storm Reid gets to be the lead in A Wrinkle in Time and give older black women and young black girls someone that looks like them on screen. And I think it’s a bet that’s going to pay off extremely well for Disney at the beginning of 2018. And at only $103 million for a budget, DuVernay definitely seems to be getting them their money’s worth because the trailers have looked amazing.
Prediction: $750 - $850 Million. The only thing really holding A Wrinkle In Time back is that it’s in a super packed March that will cut into its long term returns. But it wouldn’t surprise me if DuVernay ends up passing Jenkins’ record of highest grossing film for a female director.
Avengers: Infinity War
The question isn’t “Is Infinity War going to hit a billion?”, it’s is it going to hit $2 billion? Better yet, will it reach the elusive $200 million opening weekend? Most films that enter the Billion Dollar Club do so because they’re event movies. Meaning they’re so culturally big, just going to see it turns into an event. We’ve seen the Avengers before but this movie is about bringing the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe together in one movie. This is the event to end all events. It’s supposed to turn everything on its head so much that Feige won’t even tell us what the name of Avengers 4 is because he says it will spoil Infinity War. Throw in Thanos who seems to arrive announcing that he’s here to chew bubblegum and kick ass and he’s all out of bubblegum, we might see Marvel break their own worldwide gross record.
Prediction: $1.8 - $2 Billion. Easy.
Solo: A Star Wars Story
LucasFilms has been riding a high of three straight films of $1+ billion dollars at the box-office. In just 3 weeks, The Last Jedi became the highest grossing film of 2017. That’s with a silly troll campaign that tried to make it seem like fans weren’t happy with it. So it would seem crazy to think that their 4th film would lead to this streak being broken but that might be exactly what’s going to happen. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of confidence behind Solo: A Star Wars Story. Ron Howard having to come in last minute to finish the film and do reshoots plus Alden Ehrenreich not exactly giving folks the confidence of being Han Solo leaves a lot of questions. There’s been very little promotion, zero teasers and just doesn’t seem to be following the typical winning formula for LucasFilms.
Also sticking it in the Memorial Day slot also doesn’t scream winner either. That said, much like Dead Men Tell No Tales, even if it got bad reviews and a low domestic box office, it could see an overall gross saved by the overseas market. The problem is, its second weekend runs into Deadpool 2. Hot Take Alert: Solo is going to lose to the Merc with a Mouth.
Prediction: $750 million. I’m basing this off the idea that there are actual troubles with this film. Funny story though is…Rogue One was also said to have troubles and still got great reviews. It also hit a billion. So, if Solo turns out to be good…all bets are off.
The Incredibles 2
While Black Panther and Infinity War might top the “Most Anticipated” list, The Incredibles 2 is right up there. Grown ass adults have been begging for The Incredibles 2 for the last 14 years. And one thing we know about the box office is: If your movie can get adults AND children into seats, you’re going to do super well. Animated movies always get overlooked in the Billion Dollar Box-Office club. Despicable Me 3 brought in just over a billion last year and The Incredibles 2 should cross that mark easily.
Prediction: $1 - $1.2 Billion. 14 years ago the original did over $600 million. I don’t see how this sequel doesn’t come close to doubling that.
Ant-Man and The Wasp
I still can’t get over the fact that Marvel Studios did an Ant-Man movie…and was successful. Sure, Ant-Man barely grossed over $500 million worldwide but…that’s huge (no pun intended) for an Ant-Man movie. Plus it also had the smallest budget to date for any of their films. In a way, it was kinda like a heat check for Feige and Marvel Studios. Marvel’s made sure to put Scott Lang in Civil War (with some Giant Man upgrades) and is also putting Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp not only in costume for the sequel, but in the title. More exposure for Scott + Giving audiences what they want (Janet in costume) = This movie is going to do great.
Prediction: $750 Million. No one expects this film to hit a billion but just about every Marvel sequel does significantly better at the box office the next time out. If Marvel is riding two huge successes in Black Panther and Infinity War, expect this movie to see a great boost.
I haven’t seen much about this film yet and I’m not even sure if it’s still coming out this year. All I know is that it has Hayley Atwell and Ewan McGregor in it. There are official photos for it and so maybe it does come out. But unlike everything else on this list, it’s just not getting a lot of buzz. This could end up being this year’s Pete’s Dragon where it could get good reviews but no one cared to go see it in theaters.
Prediction: $150 - $200 Million
Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck It Ralph 2
I’m going to go super conservative with Wreck It Ralph. It’s coming later in the year, has stiff competition from not only other Disney properties but other studios as well. The first film did just under $500 million and I don’t think there’s a huge market for Wreck It Ralph 2. I think this film earns under what the original did. Hey, Disney can’t win them all.
Prediction: $400 Million
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
For these last two movies, it’s a toss-up. On the surface you might be wondering why Disney would make thes films. I would then point to the fact that before The Last Jedi, the #1 movie of 2017 was Beauty and the Beast. These Disney remakes/reimagines make bank. The first Alice in Wonderland made over a billion. Maleficent made around $750 million.The Jungle Book did just under a billion. Beauty and the Beast? $1.2 billion. Disney sees the writing on the wall and it’s in solid gold. Sure, some times these things will flop like Alice Through the Looking Glass. But Disney’s record is still pretty solid so far. And with The Nutcracker, I think they’re pretty confident they have a hit.
They’ve already released a pretty gorgeous teaser trailer for it and the film is 11 months away. Also in keeping with their theme this year of “If you build it they will come”, the teaser is full of black people making me think that Disney knows exactly what they’re doing. Misty Copeland is only in this movie for the big dance number but Disney was smart enough to make sure she was visible in the trailer.
Prediction: $700 Million. This film comes out opposite of X-Men: Dark Phoenix and unless this X-Men film does something with its trailers no other X-Men film has done, I don’t see how it doesn’t get steam rolled by The Nutcracker.
Mary Poppins Returns
On our 2018 movie preview I initially laughed at this movie until I realized it was Disney. Then I realized it was going to do numbers. Just look at the cast: Emily Blunt, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Oh and it comes out over Christmas. It’s only competition are the Bumblebee and Aquaman movies coming out the Friday before. I’m not sure either one really stands a chance.
Prediction: $700 Million. I went conservative with both this film and The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. I don’t see either of these movies falling flat and think that at the very least they’ll do marginally well. But part of me believes that at least one of them will break out big. I just don’t know which one.
So, will Disney hit 7 or 8 billion at the box office this year? Using just the low end predictions puts Disney just short of $8 billion in 2018. I think it’s a safe bet that Disney could not only threepeat but break all kinds of records in 2018.