Summer Box Office Rebounding From Last Year's Bust, Eyes Near-Record Boom
Summer ticket sales are running more than 15 percent ahead of summer 2017, when revenue tumbled to its lowest level in more than a decade, but it's still been feast or famine for some movies.
The summer box office is headed for near-record levels, a consolation prize of sorts as Hollywood braces for a studio consolidation that will reshape the film business.
Revenue for the season is pacing 15 percent to 16 percent ahead of last summer, when ticket sales fell to their lowest level in more than a decade, according to comScore. At its current pace, summer 2018 could come close to matching the May-August stretch in 2013, when revenue hit a record $4.8 billion at the domestic box office.
Similar data isn't yet available for the summer box office overseas.
Through June 26, domestic summer revenue clocked in at $2 billion. Disney's movies account for more than $1.2 billion of of that, amounting to a whopping 60 percent marketshare.
Topping the list of summer's top grossers is Disney/Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War, which has taken in more than $670 million in North America and $2.032 billion globally. Disney/Pixar's Incredibles 2 boasts an early domestic total of $384 million since its June 15 opening, followed by Fox's Deadpool 2 with a domestic cume of $306.2 million.
Solo: A Star Wars Story may be a major money loser for Lucasfilm and Disney, but it has still added $202.6 million to the bottom line in North America.
Universal's Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which just opened domestically last weekend on June 22, will soon overtake Solo, having rossed $193.4 million through June 28.
Two female-skewing movies — Warner Bros.' Ocean's 8 and Paramount's Book Club — are next up with running totals of $105.6 million and $65.3 million, respectively.
Aside from Solo, the big loser this summer has been comedy. The genre has been under siege for more than two years, and 2018 hasn't brought much relief. No comedy has managed to break the $55 million mark this summer. Melissa McCarthy's Life of Party tops that list so far with $52.3 million.
Yet despite certain underperformers, the summer season has cemented a year-over-year gain. Earlier this week, 2018 domestic revenue hit $6 billion faster than any year in history. That represented an 8 percent uptick over 2017, and revenue for the full year could set a new record, eclipsing the $11.4 billion collected in 2016.
But the wealth hasn't been spread around evenly.
Year to date among the six major Hollywood studios, Disney commands a 36 percent marketshare, followed by Fox — the studio it is hoping to buy — at 12 percent, Warner Bros. (11.5 percent), Universal (9.5 percent), Sony (7 percent) and Paramount (5.8 percent).
While Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom was widely considered the final A-list tentpole of summer 2018, the July and August calendar is filled with potential breakouts, including Skyscraper, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!, Mission: Impossible — Fallout, Hotel Transylvania 3, Crazy Rich Asians and BlackKklansman, among others.
"This summer is up 15.7 percent over last year, which was the worst-performing summer since 2006, and, notably, a mere 3.4 percent behind the record summer of 2013 at this point," says Paul Dergarabedian of comScore. "The combination of superhero films, comedies, horror titles, notable documentaries and films aimed at older moviegoers has made this summer the one Hollywood was dreaming of after last year's low ebb."