Another year has come and gone, which means that dozens and dozens of movies battled it out for box office supremacy. It was a good year to be a superhero or horror movie thanks to box office smashes like Wonder Woman and genuine surprises like IT. Other films soared while others faltered, but for movie fans, it never ceases to be fun to watch. 2017 was another mixed year at the box office, which ultimately saw decline despite the best efforts of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. A new year is upon us though, which means there will be a whole new slew of movies looking to take home the title of the highest grossing movie of the year.
2018 is jam-packed with sequels and new entries to popular franchises. Predicting what movie is going to be successful at the box office isn't a perfect science (it might not even be a science), but trends do tend to develop that give us an idea of what's going to do well. Considering franchise history, fan excitement, and a few other factors, I think that these 10 films could be the highest grossing movies of 2018.
In another year, I would have said that a spin-off of the highly successful Transformers movie franchise would have been a sure thing for the top of the charts. However, 2017 saw a decline in a lot of typically successful franchises, Transformers among them. Transformers: The Last Knight underperformed this summer and is the lowest ranked entry in the series both domestically and worldwide. It's unclear if this is just a fluke or if people might be fed up with these giant robots, which begs the question of where this leaves Travis Knight's Bumblebee - a feature designed to introduce something new to the world of Robots In Disguise.
Ultimately, I think that Bumblebee will just barely make it into the Top 10. The foreign market has always propped up the Transformers movies, so even if Bumblebee struggles domestically, it could see big gains in foreign markets. The fact that Bumblebee is a spin-off and allowed to deviate from the literally explosive Transformers formula could make it a refresher for audiences. It's set in the 80's, far away from the baggage of the main series, and has a genuinely good director (Travis Knight), but those are more a measure of quality than success.
9. Ready Player One
Steven Spielberg may have invented the summer blockbuster, but he's not as big a draw as he used to be. One of his most recent films, The BFG, is proof of that. But when you've got the imagination of one of the best directors in the world behind the wheel of a modern CGI blockbuster like Ready Player One, then you better pay attention.
The other major factor behind Ready Player One is nostalgia. Thanks to the film's virtual reality video game world where anything is possible, Ready Player One is a pop culture extravaganza (as is the book that it's based on). Everybody from Gandalf to Harley Quinn to King Kong to the Iron Giant to Overwatch to Akira to freaking Chucky is in this movie! That cameo potential alone should be enough to get nerd butts in seats. Maybe that's shallow, but nostalgia is a viable weapon on the box office battlefield; just look at Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The look back at pop culture yesteryear is half the reason why the Ready Player One novel was so successful in the first place, and I'm betting the big screen adaptation is a win as well.
8. Mission: Impossible 6
People love their spy movies. James Bond is still going strong at the box office after 26 films, and five movies in Mission: Impossible is as powerful as ever. The Tom Cruise-led series is at a franchise highpoint right now thanks to Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, a critical and commercial success, and an untitled sixth movie is due to arrive in the summer of 2018.
The latest two entries in the series, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, are the two highest grossing Mission: Impossible films worldwide at almost $700 million each, meaning the series has only gotten stronger with age - a rarity. It certainly helps that both of these movies were high quality, action-heavy films that weren't afraid to have fun. Plus, the "See the Latest Crazy Stunt Tom Cruise Did" marketing doesn't hurt either. Tom Cruise can save a movie in a foreign market all on his own (see: The Mummy), but with a genuinely entertaining series and returning director Christopher McQuarrie behind him, it shouldn't be very hard at all for Mission: Impossible 6 to lock in eighth place in the Top 10.
7. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Critically, the first Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them did not impress, but Warner Bros. is all-in on their Harry Potter prequel franchise. And after an $814 million worldwide score, a sequel is on the way. I think that people are a bit warier of the Fantastic Beasts movie after the original, but this is still Harry Potter: one of the most popular and successful properties of today with millions of fans worldwide. That in mind, one can safely predict Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald will likely make a sizeable chunk of change.
If nothing else, the curiosity of seeing a young Albus Dumbledore (played by Jude Law) should attract any fans who weren't completely impressed with the first Fantastic Beasts. However, this sequel does have a black spot in the form of Johnny Depp. Some groups of fans are still upset that Depp was cast in the first place, and nothing that David Yates or even J.K. Rowling have said has pacified the situation. Depp's increased presence in the sequel could be a questionable factor in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald's endgame, but again, this is still Harry Potter, so we'll see what happens.
6. The Incredibles 2
Family-friendly animated movies typically make a strong showing at the box office, especially ones from familiar studios like Pixar or Illumination. While Disney does have Wreck-It Ralph 2 coming in 2018, I think that it will be The Incredibles 2 that represents animation in the Top 10 in the next 12 months.
People love the first Incredibles, which came out in 2004, and it frequently sits at the higher tiers of most Pixar "Best Of" lists. With a sequel from the same creative team arriving years later, The Incredibles 2 now has a nostalgia factor attracting older fans and their families, in addition to new audiences. Furthermore, the first Incredibles came out before the superhero boom. It'll be interesting to see how the animated sequel performs now that the genre has exploded. As far as its potential goes, one only needs to look at Finding Dory, a Pixar sequel that was in a similar situation that went on to be one of the highest grossing movies of 2016 and the highest grossing animated movie in North America. Never doubt the animated sequel.
5. Solo: A Star Wars Story
You can't have a modern Top 10 Box Office list without putting Star Wars on it. Ever since the franchise was revitalized by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars has been a top contender at the box office, and there's no reason to think anything different will happen in 2018 Solo: A Star Wars Story is set to premiere this summer, but it's not clear that it'll be as much of a slam dunk as its predecessors.
While it does have Star Wars in the title, it's tough to gauge the interest level for a prequel about Han Solo. Despite the fact that the movie will be out in a few months, there haven't been any trailers, and the only real press the film has gotten has been mostly focused on the firing of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the original directors, and their replacement with Ron Howard. However, general audience members likely won't be aware of that and if Solo: A Star Wars Story looks fun and entertaining, they'll see it. Will it make over one billion dollars like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story? It seems unlikely right now, but perhaps Star Wars has earned the benefit of the doubt in the box office.
4. Deadpool 2
Deadpool was the little superhero movie that could. After years in development hell, one leaked video of test footage was enough to give Fox the confidence to greenlight the movie. Now, Deadpool is the highest grossing R-rated movie ever made, and the Merc with a Mouth is a household name. The movie was deeply pleasing to fans of the comic book character, and it looks like that enthusiasm has stayed high enough for Deadpool 2.
Ordinarily, sequels don't perform as well as the original, but there's a chance that Deadpool 2 -- or Untitled Deadpool Sequel, as it's currently known -- could outpace its predecessor. For one thing, it has the inclusion of Cable (played by Josh Brolin), a fan-favorite who is enough to keep the fans coming back to theaters. Another factor is that Deadpool has a bigger fanbase now than he had pre-movie. He isn't just this goofy character known only to diehard fans anymore. He's got national familiarity, and people could turn out to the theater faster than they did for his first movie when they had no idea who he was. Plus, the marketing is crazy on-brand for the sequel.
3. Black Panther
This year, Wonder Woman made history by breaking a ton of box office records on its climb to the top (well, No. 9 to be exact). On top of being a genuinely good movie, fans were hungry to see a woman-led superhero film both in front of and behind the camera. If any movie is in a similar situation in 2018, it's Black Panther.
Black Panther will be Marvel Studios first movie with a black superhero in the lead, something for which fans have spent a long time asking. The trailers make this movie look amazing, and the buzz is really high for Black Panther. It's not one of the most anticipated films of 2018 for no reason. Most Marvel introductory solo movies do well, but they don't usually perform at the level of a Marvel sequel or Avengers movie. However, those movies didn't have this level of excitement, and I think that certain factors will propel Black Panther over the likes of Doctor Strange and Ant-Man. It could very well end up being Marvel's highest grossing non-sequel movie.
2. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Jurassic World is the fourth highest grossing movie of all time. It set box office records by earning $500 million in just one weekend, and it didn't stop until it had acquired $1.6 billion at the box office. It's tough to say exactly why Jurassic World had such a powerful turnout. It's not a revolutionary film by any means, and is the Jurassic Park brand really this strong? Whatever the case, there's no reason to think that lightning won't strike twice with the sequel - but there are still plenty of reasons to believe that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom will bring in lots and lots of money.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom will bring the characters introduced in the last movie back to Isla Nublar to once again have a dinosaur-filled adventure. This time the goal is to save the creatures from an active volcano ready to blow at any moment. The response to the sequels first trailer felt a bit muted, but there's no glaring warning that Fallen Kingdom won't score big. Will it gain the heights of Jurassic World? I don't think so, mostly just because the sequel doesn't have years of build up like Jurassic World did (the same reason Star Wars: The Last Jedi won't reach Star Wars: The Force Awakens' numbers). But that doesn't mean it won't still make a killing. It never hurts to have Jeff Goldblum in your corner.
1. Avengers: Infinity War
Well, duh. What other movies other than Avengers: Infinity War could have possibly claimed the top spot in 2018?! It's the single biggest release of the year with no main Star Wars saga film or equally-sized blockbuster to compete with it. Marvel Studios' Avengers sequels are usually top earners at the box office, but it's easy to predict that the next Joe and Anthony Russo-directed blockbuster will set a new high water mark for the franchise.
The number one factor of Avengers: Infinity War is the sheer size of the movie. With almost every major character from across 18 movies set to share the screen, it's not only the biggest movie Marvel has ever made, but possibly the biggest movie ever. Fans are stoked to see characters like Captain America and Spider-Man interact with the Guardians of the Galaxy, and for a wide variety of characters to interact for the first time. Its first trailer has over 110 million views on YouTube for a reason. There's also the sense of stakes, as the threat of Thanos could mean the end of existence and almost certainly the death of at least two or three beloved characters. Finality is also at play, as this will be one of the last times fans see these particular incarnations of favorite characters. There's no promise that this movie will be good. Something on this scale could fold in on itself pretty easily. But Marvel's track record is incredibly solid, and it's easy to imagine the film making a crazy amount of money either way.
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Matt has lived in New Jersey his entire life, but commutes every day to New York City. He graduated from Rowan University and loves Marvel, Nintendo, and going on long hikes and then greatly wishing he was back indoors. Matt has been covering the entertainment industry for over two years and will fight to his dying breath that Hulk and Black Widow make a good couple.
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