The 10 Most Profitable Films of 2018

2018 Most Profitable Films

Black Panther was among 2018’s most profitable films. Matt Kennedy/Marvel Studios

When it comes to the box office, industry observers and passionate fans are rightly drawn to the biggest, most jaw-dropping numbers. How much did this movie make in its opening weekend? Did it cross $250 million domestic? How about $1 billion worldwide? For the sake of convenience, the movie business has become a series of quantifiable benchmarks.

But one stat that often goes overlooked due to its difficulty to calculate is actual pure profit. There are a lot of costs that go into movie making that aren’t reflected in a film’s production budget (which studios often publicly downplay), including marketing and ancillary expenditures the public isn’t always privy to. If you can discover exactly how much money a studio earns from a certain project, you’re ahead of the game.

With that in mind, here are the 10 most profitable films of 2018 (profit numbers courtesy of Deadline).

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10. A Star Is Born
Production Budget: $36 million
Worldwide Box-Office Earnings: $433.8 million
Profit: $178.1 million

The oft-remade tale of tragic Hollywood romance may have fizzled out in the Oscars Best Picture race, but it still notched eight total nominations while announcing Bradley Cooper as a directorial force and Lady Gaga as a newly minted movie star. That it made a whole bundle of money along the way is just icing on the cake.

9. The Grinch
Production Budget: $75 million
Worldwide Box-Office Earnings: $511.3 million
Profit: $185.6 million

We’ve previously explored how Universal Pictures manages to keep pace at the box office without the benefit of any superhero franchises, and Illumination Animation is a major contributing factor. The animated division continually pumps out four-quadrant, family-friendly hits on budgets far smaller than its more heralded competition at Pixar. The Benedict Cumberbatch–led Grinch proved incredibly leggy here in North America with a fantastic 4.0x multiplier (the multiple of the film’s final gross to its debut numbers).

8. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Production Budget: 
$170 million
Worldwide Box-Office Earnings: $1.3 billion
Profit: $235.4 million

We may not be the biggest fans of the Jurassic World series, but there’s no denying how effectively the films have weaponized nostalgiaFallen Kingdom grossed nearly $418 million domestic, proving that our generational attraction to certain titles can serve as a marketing strategy. Jurassic World 3, slated for a 2021 release, is expected to generate similarly strong ticket sales.

7. Deadpool 2
Production Budget: $110 million
Worldwide Box-Office Earnings: $785 million
Profit: $235.4 million

The original Deadpool cost just $58 million while grossing $783 million worldwide and pulling in an overall profit of $322 million. Given the jump in budget the second time around, a reduction in profits was expected. Still, Ryan Reynolds’ foul-mouthed Wade Wilson has become so popular that he is the only X-Men character that won’t be rebooted and recast under Disney.

6. Venom
Production Budget: $100 million
Worldwide Box-Office Earnings: $855 million
Profit: $246.9 million

Venom defied all expectations and critical reactions to blow up into one of 2018’s biggest box-office success stories. It even pulled in more pure profit than Spider-Man: Homecoming (which earned $200.1 million). Most important, it finally provided Sony with a foothold into its own shared cinematic universe of Marvel characters, a continuity the studio has been trying to launch for years.

5. Aquaman
Production Budget: $160 million to $200 million
Worldwide Box-Office Earnings:
$1.1 billion
Profit: $260.5 million

Somehow, some way, James Wan’s Aquaman has become DC’s highest-grossing film ever—yes, it even beat Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. As Matt Reeves reboots the caped crusader with The Batman and Henry Cavill leaves behind his role as Superman, DC’s Big Three moving forward seem to be Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Shazam.

4. Bohemian Rhapsody
Production Budget: $52 million
Worldwide Box-Office Earnings: $896.3 million
Profit: $350.8 million

Here’s a list of a few films that the non-fantasy, non-action flick, non-superhero movie Bohemian Rhapsody has outgrossed: SpectreHarry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsThe Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Inside OutThor: Ragnarok, Inception, Wonder Woman and Independence Day. Make of that what you will.

3. Incredibles 2
Production Budget: $200 million
Worldwide Box-Office Earnings: $1.2 billion
Profit: $447.4 million

Arriving 14 years after the original, Incredibles 2 set a handful of box-office records, including: best animated opening ($182.6 million), best animated worldwide debut ($235.8 million) and best animated film at the domestic box office ($608.6 million). Clearly, the Parr family still packs quite a punch—as does the Pixar brand.

2. Black Panther
Production Budget: $200 million
Worldwide Box-Office Earnings: $1.3 billion
Profit: $476.8 million

Black Panther is Marvel Studios’ most sophisticated film in many ways, and, as a touchstone of blockbuster representation, it shattered all expectations at the box office. It stands as the third-highest-grossing film in North American history ($700 million) behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Avatar. Credit to writer-director Ryan Coogler for developing Marvel’s ace in the hole should the core Avengers cast bid adieu after Endgame.

1. Avengers: Infinity War
Production Budget: $315 million to $400 million
Worldwide Box-Office Earnings: $2.0 billion
Profit: $500 million

Did you expect anything else to top this list? Infinity War was a decade in the making and the first-part conclusion of the current iteration of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Given the astronomical expense of this month’s Avengers: Endgame, it will be fascinating to see how it compares at the box office. But one thing is for certain: Disney continues to reign supreme in Hollywood’s ongoing franchise wars.

The 10 Most Profitable Films of 2018