The 2017 box office was down two percent from the year before, which is a lot when you’re talking tens of billions of dollars. The fall reaffirmed a disturbing trend in Hollywood, in which ticket sales have been steadily declining since 2002. However, thanks to a diverse slate of massively successful blockbusters, 2018 has set a North American record for box office grosses.
This year generated combined ticket sales of $11.383 billion, compared to the previous record of $11.392 billion set in 2016, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Thanks to recent offerings like Aquaman, Marry Poppins Returns, Bumblebee and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, North America’s 2018 earnings are soon expected to surpass those totals from two years ago. Four different films crossed the vaunted $1 billion worldwide mark this year, one short of the record set in 2015. Domestically, a handful of über-blockbusters and small overachievers helped push the total to new heights.
Unsurprisingly, Disney paced the field in total domestic gross thanks to the lofty earnings of hits like Black Panther ($700 million), Avengers: Infinity War ($679 million) and Incredibles 2 ($608 million). It’s the second time a studio has raked in at least $3 billion in North America after Disney set that record in 2016. Disney’s jaw-dropping 27 percent market share is made all the more unfathomable by the fact that it released just nine films this year. Once the Mouse House’s acquisition of Fox is officially approved in early 2019, it will control roughly one-third of the domestic slate. Make of that what you will.
Despite high-cost, less lucrative films like Damien Chazelle’s Oscar hopeful First Man and Mortal Engines, Universal arrives in second place with just under $2 billion. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (which grossed $417 million) led the way for the studio, followed by The Grinch ($253 million) and Halloween ($159 million). Credit to Universal for consistently finishing in the top three without putting out any comic book titles.
Warner Bros. currently sits in third place with nearly $1.7 billion. However, the studio could leapfrog Universal depending on how well Aquaman performs. The DC Universe blockbuster opened to $67 million over the three-day weekend but is expected to ride the holidays to a healthy domestic total. While WB will not have a single film among the top 10 domestic earners, it hit so many singles and doubles this year that it still comes out ahead. A Star Is Born ($200 million), Crazy Rich Asians ($174 million) and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald ($152 million) lead a group of mid-major hits.
There are no official numbers for worldwide box office earnings yet, but according to THR, global sales are up five percent from last year.