In today’s IP-driven franchise ecosystem, a film’s opening weekend is more important to its overall success than ever before. Gone are the days in which blockbusters such as Jurassic Park and Titanic can play in theaters for nearly 12 full months. Instead, debut numbers can doom a film three days into release or cushion its luxurious three-to-five month theatrical run. This is one of many reasons Disney is so well-equipped to leverage the current box office landscape.
But an opening weekend isn’t the only deciding factor in a film’s financial forecast. Legs, or the longevity of a film’s earning power and box office stamina, still play an important role in profitability. So we looked at the ten highest-grossing domestic blockbusters of the year and ranked them by their multipliers, or the multiple of the film’s final gross to its debut numbers.
Opening Weekend: $91,062,152
Domestic Total: $203,150,205*
It: Chapter II receives an asterisk as it’s still in theaters (it earned more than $5 million last weekend). The sequel is currently the seventh highest-grossing domestic earner of the year and its 2017 predecessor is the highest-grossing horror movie of all time. Chapter II debuted somewhat lower than expected but never dropped more than 57% weekend-to-weekend.
Opening Weekend: $357,115,007
Domestic Total: $858,373,000
Avengers: Endgame shattered expectations by collecting the biggest opening weekend in history with the world’s first $300 million-plus debut. As you all know, it also became the highest-grossing movie worldwide of all time with nearly $2.8 billion. With those kind of upfront numbers, a solid but not spectacular multiplier of 2.4x really wasn’t much of a detriment. Endgame is the second highest-grossing domestic earner ever and 2019’s biggest film by far.
Opening Weekend: $71,117,625
Domestic Total: $175,005,930
In an age of shared cinematic universes, Jordan Peele has rapidly become a universe onto himself. Us nearly tripled its $20 million production budget in its opening weekend alone. Worldwide, Peele’s two directorial efforts have grossed more than $500 million against a combined budget of less than $25 million. Thanks to its solid legs, Us is the eighth highest-grosser of the year and sure to be one of the most purely profitable films of 2019.
Opening Weekend: $153,433,423
Domestic Total: $426,829,839
Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel earned more domestically ($427 million) than Wonder Woman ($412 million), Aquaman ($335 million), Captain America: Civil War ($408 million) and Spider-Man: Far from Home ($390 million). It enjoyed the third-biggest debut of any movie this year and is currently the fourth biggest-earning of 2019. Higher, further, faster indeed.
Opening Weekend: $60,038,950
Domestic Total: $173,244,630
Normally, studios would like to see its biggest tentpoles earn upwards of $200 million here at home, especially when they cost $200 million to make. That’s because, generally speaking, studios keep 50% of domestic ticket sales and just 25% of foreign ticket sales. Still, Universal has to be ecstatic with Hobbs & Shaw‘s boffo $200 million gross in China alone. The Fast & Furious brand is still gassed up in the Middle Kingdom and good for ninth place Stateside.
Opening Weekend: $191,770,759
Domestic Total: $541,448,890
The Lion King rode the year’s second-best opening to the 11th biggest domestic gross in history. Thus far, Disney’s double-dipping strategy of remaking its classic animated tales is working wonders for the studio’s bottom line. But the strategy may be finite. After The Little Mermaid and Mulan, will upcoming efforts such as Cruella be more Jungle Book or Dumbo at the box office? For right now, the studio can revel The Lion King‘s second-place finish at the box office so far.
Opening Weekend: $56,818,067
Domestic Total: $171,015,687
The John Wick franchise has earned nearly $585 million worldwide against a combined budget of just $140 million. It’s such a winner for Lionsgate that the studio announced John Wick 4 a week after the third film hit theaters. None of the three films have posted a multiplier lower than 2.9x, proving their excellent staying power at the box office. As long as audiences keep showing up, Keanu Reeves will keep pumping ’em out. Chapter 3 is currently the 10th biggest domestic hit of the year.
Opening Weekend: $120,908,065
Domestic Total: $433,356,638
Toy Story 4 earned the year’s fourth-biggest opening en route to become the third-biggest earner on the year. Not bad for a 24-year-old franchise. Pixar built its reputation of excellence off the back of the Toy Story series and the numbers back it up. Each sequel has earned more than its direct predecessor and the last two films crossed the $1 billion mark worldwide. None of the movies have ever earned a multiplier less than 3.7x. Legs for days.
Opening Weekend: $91,500,929
Domestic Total: $355,476,505
Thanks to lackluster trailers and questionable CGI for Will Smith’s Genie, Aladdin faced a mountain of criticism during its pre-release marketing campaign. But never doubt the combination of star power and beloved branded IP. Aladdin‘s is North America’s sixth highest-grosser as of right now and yet another $1 billion-plus feather in Disney’s cap. Furthermore, its impressive 3.8x multiplier proved that audiences kept coming back.
Opening Weekend: $92,579,212
Domestic Total: $390,361,240
The Avengers bump is a real phenomenon. It’s aided MCU adventures dating back to 2013 when Iron Man 3 become the first standalone entry in the universe to surpass $1 billion. As the first MCU flick hitting theaters after Avengers: Endgame, Far from Home was bound to benefit. The sequel’s opening actually plunged 21% compared to 2017’s Homecoming, but both its domestic total (+16%) and worldwide total (+28%) saw significant leaps. Overall, Far from Home is the year’s fifth highest-grosser domestically.