2018 Box Office Revenue Hits New Record in North America

Aquaman Still 17 - Publicity - H 2018
Jasin Boland/Warner Bros.

A well-received crop of movies that appealed to a diverse audience fueled the boom.

Hollywood and theater owners got an early Christmas present on Sunday when 2018's domestic box office revenue surpassed the record set in 2016, with this year's lucrative Christmas-New Year corridor still to come.

The new benchmark won't be finalized until Monday when final weekend grosses are calculated, but an early read shows that combined ticket sales for the year have hit $11.383 billion, compared to $11.392 billion for all of 2016. A crop of new year-end movies opening over the weekend, including Aquaman, Mary Poppins Returns and Bumblebee, aided in closing the gap.

At this pace, there's a good chance 2018 domestic revenue could hit $11.8 billion by the end of New Year's Eve. Attendance is also up year-over-year by between 5 percent and 7 percent.

Disney once again led all studios and on Sunday celebrated its own milestone: Its 2018 slate, led by Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Incredibles 2, has generated north of $3 billion domestically to top the industry mark Disney set in 2016 when it hit $3 billion, a first for any distributor.

Overall, a well-received crop of tentpoles and other event pics appealing to a diverse audience helped to fuel the boom.

Following Black Panther ($700 million), Avengers: Infinity War ($678.8 million) and Incredibles 2 ($608.6 million), the No. 4 and No. 5 top-grossing domestic titles to date are Universal's Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ($416.8 million) and Fox's Deadpool 2 ($318.5 million).

Disney, which is on the verge of acquiring 20th Century Fox, commands an unprecedented 27 percent of domestic market share. Put another way, Disney is more than $1 billion ahead of the next nearest studio, Universal, in North America. And its global ticket sales have already crossed $7 billion for the year, only the second time that any studio has done so (Disney was the first).

There's no stats yet for the 2018 international box office, but overseas revenue is running about 5 percent ahead of last year. Part of the reason is foreign currency fluctuations. In recent years, offshore ticket sales have usually driven the growth at the worldwide box office. This year is the rare exception.