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To say that last year's summer season was a disappointment at the box office is an understatement. Despite hits like Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Dunkirk, attendance was at a 25-year low, and for the first time in 11 years, the box office failed to reach the $4 billion mark, coming in way below at $3.78 billion. Fortunately for the industry, as this summer comes to a close, the box office is in much better shape than last year. More people are going to the movies and that has seen the domestic box office cross $4 billion this past weekend.
The summer season, which extends from the first weekend in May through the last weekend of August, is up big time this year, with a little time still left to go. Notably, the $4 billion milestone does not include the opening week for this year's biggest film, Avengers: Infinity War, or its $257 million opening weekend since that came in April. That said, according to The Wrap, if you do include that record-setting week, the summer box office jumps to $4.45 billion, putting it on pace to be the second-highest in history after 2013's $4.75 billion. Not a bad way to come back after the disappointment of 2017.
Digging a little bit deeper into things, it becomes clear that this was really a team effort and not just the biggest blockbusters that made this happen. For example, August of last year brought in $658 million in ticket sales, which was the worst in 20 years. This August, however, has seen the July holdover like Mission: Impossible Fallout and the summeriest of summer movies, The Meg, deliver to the bottom line, which sits at $605 million, putting it 17% ahead of 2017's pace. Smaller films have contributed as well, with the over-performing romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians and movies like Christopher Robin and BlacKkKlansman all providing a variety of options to suit all tastes and driving theater attendance.
As far as what this summer moviegoing season means for the year on the whole, things are looking good. Today the total domestic box office for 2018 should cross $8 billion, which will be the first time that number has been surpassed before the end of August. On the year, the box office is currently outpacing 2017 by 9%. This year is also running 4% ahead of 2016, which set the current record with $11.3 billion that year. Of course, the back half of this year lacks the heaviest hitters like MCU films and Star Wars, so we'll see how the rest of the calendar makes up for it.
This summer has clearly been a good one for moviegoing and has seen some of the biggest titles like Incredibles 2 and Mission: Impossible Fallout really deliver not just commercially, but critically as well. I'd also be curious to know how much the rise in moviegoing subscription services like MoviePass, Sinemia and AMC Stubs A-List have contributed to the increase in box office and attendance this summer.
There are still plenty of reasons to go to the movies. For what's left of the summer and the rest of the year, check them out in our release calendar.