Get ready, friends, as we remember 2018 with five different Top 5 lists! Ready, set, RECAP!!!
5 Ways to Recap 2018
By George Rose
January 10, 2019
RECAP #1 - MOST PLEASANT SURPRISES
5) NON-MCU HEROES FIGHT BACK: Who needs the Marvel Cinematic Universe when there’s all these other non-MCU heroes crushing the competition. Venom ($213 million), Spider-Verse (est $150 million), Aquaman (est $300 million), Incredibles 2 ($609 million), and Deadpool 2 ($318 million) have mostly all shown critical and commercial strength. Let’s also not forget that Venom launched its own cinematic universe, Spider-Verse will likely win an Animated Oscar, Aquaman will be DC’s biggest hit and only $1 billion earner, Incredibles 2 broke the animated opening weekend record AFTER inflation, and Deadpool 2 was heroic to try the genre’s only holiday re-release for charity. I can’t believe we ever worried about superhero fatigue.
4) MUSIC PLAYS SURPRISINGLY WELL: We all expected Mama Mia 2 ($121 million) to be a decent hit and it’s sad that Mary Poppins 2 (est $200+ million) won’t live up to lofty $300+ million pre-release expectations, but Bohemian Rhapsody ($190+ million) and A Star is Born ($200+ million) helped make this quartet a musical fearsome foursome. Who knew this ancient genre still had so much life left in it?!
3) INCREDIBLES 2 BREAKS REAL RECORD: We’ve been told Avengers 3 broke the opening weekend record ($258 million) and Incredibles 2 ($609 million) is the biggest animated movie! Except, oh no, the heroes’ worst villain is Box Office Inflation! The only actual record broken this year was for animated opening weekend with Incredibles 2’s $183 million beating Shrek the Third’s $162 million adjusted debut.
2) DIVERSITY IN ACTION: Inflation or not, Black Panther’s $700 million total is still mind-boggling; Bohemian Rhapsody ($190+ million) shows there is support for gays/bisexuals; Crazy Rich Asians ($174 million) became the biggest romantic comedy in a long time; Ocean’s 8 ($140 million) and Mama Mia 2 ($121 million) proved women can contribute their own hefty totals, and A Wrinkle in Time became the first film directed by an African American woman to earn over $100 million. I’d say there’s plenty of room for everyone in Hollywood and things seem to be headed in a more diverse direction. It’s about time!
1) POWER OF THE PRESS PASS: In a year full of hits and misses, the only thing that really matters is your own relationship with Hollywood. This year mine took the next step by going from Comic Con regular attendee to full-blown Press Pass status. It all started many years ago as I simply read Box Office Prophets and fantasized about getting involved with the industry. I never knew that would lead to attending several conventions a year and writing for BOP, and then one day combining the two. To be a part of any of this would be a blessing and in 2018 the gods granted me this most magical of wishes. I’ve worked at theaters, collected DVDs, hunted down autographs, contributed to an awesome website, met some cool celebrities, and now possess Press Passes. No movie from Marvel could top my first taste of Press glory. I will remember this year forever and thank all those that helped make my dreams come true!
RECAP #2 - BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS
5) VIDEO GAME MOVIES STILL DON’T PLAY WELL: Tomb Raider ($58 million) was the lowest in Lara Croft’s history, Rampage barely limped past $100 million and needed The Rock to do it, Ready Player One made a decent $138 million but Spielberg’s directing should have earned it more, and Wreck-It Ralph 2 will inch past the original’s $189 million total but will struggle to break the $200 million barrier. For all the potential fanboy love surrounding this genre, it’s baffling that they couldn’t get a proper breakout in 2018.
4) DISNEY IS A GOD THAT BLEEDS: Wrinkle in Time basically stole money from Incredibles 2’s opening weekend to cross $100 million and got crap for fixing the books, so it’s no surprise Disney let Christopher Robin die at $99.2 million while Nutcracker and the Four Realms ($55 million) was dead on arrival and earned half of what it needed to save face. Looks like Disney really does need the help of Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars to stay afloat.
3) STAR WARS BLEEDS TOO: Except Star Wars stumbled in 2018, leading to a series low of just over $200 million stateside and under $400 million worldwide. This one loss for the studio was so detrimental that it landed its own place on the Top 5 most disappointing stories of 2018 and places even higher than Disney’s other losses. Though losing one battle doesn’t mean they’ll lose the war, it’s still nice to know fans won’t buy just anything and that studios must continue to provide quality product if they want fans to support it.
2) BLACK PANTHER BEATS THE AVENGERS: Listen, I’d be just as upset if an Iron Man movie earned more than Avengers did. There’s no reason any solo MCU hero should outgross the team-up title. I mean, why wouldn’t everyone who saw Black Panther also see Avengers? Did a bunch of Panther fans see it multiple times? Are there more Avengers fans but no repeat offenders? Then again, Justice League is the lowest earning title in the DCEU and the solo features are crushing it, but the MCU is better than that. Fans of each solo hero should join hands to see the group effort. Maybe Avengers: Endgame will right the ship and top Black Panther, but for now this feels like lopsided fandom and it’s driving my OCD for crunching numbers into a tizzy!
1) BLOCKBUSTER SEQUELS THAT SUCKED: Jurassic World 2 shouldn’t have tackled human cloning; Fantastic Beasts 2 was all setup and little payoff; Wreck-It Ralph 2 broke their own rules when Vanellope went “turbo”; Mary Poppins 2 had only decent earnings/reviews; Ocean’s 8 was the lowest in the series after inflation; Incredibles 2 copied the first film; Deadpool 2 couldn’t recapture the magic of the first; Ant-Man 2 used the “sympathetic villain is hiding the true corporate bad guy” cliche; Mission: Impossible 6 was too long; Mama Mia 2 shouldn’t have killed Meryl Streep and then used her for one song and tons of marketing; Fifty Shades Freed denied us our last chance at have male nudity after three films featuring a naked woman; and Pacific Rim 2 was just terrible. Is it me or is the era of “bigger, better” sequel dead and now they’re all just half-assed attempts at keeping stale franchises alive?
RECAP #3 - CELEBRITY SHOUT OUTS
5) THE MEN OF MARVEL: When the mega hits of the year are ensemble Marvel movies it creates a huge list of celebrities that can claim they starred in the biggest blockbuster, but only a few can say they were in TWO of top films. Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther & Avengers 4, Samuel L. Jackson in Avengers 4 & Incredibles 2, Chris Pratt in Avengers 4 & Jurassic World 2, Benedict Cumberbatch in Avengers 4 & The Grinch, and Josh Brolin in Avengers 4 & Deadpool 2. These stars, films and brands are among the most bankable in the industry.
4) MARK RUFFALO: Of all the Marvel-ous men to grace our screens, the Hulk is the one I met in real life. After getting approved for my final 2018 Comic Con press pass, I ventured almost two hours to NYC to find out I was the second to last person allowed in line before waiting another two hours to get my turn with Ruffalo. It was an exhausting journey to travel alone but it was worth the time and every penny of the $200 I spent. Aside from meeting a genuinely kind and gracious celebrity, I got to meet an actual Avenger.
3) AWKWAFINA: There are plenty of stars that can claim to be one- or two-hit wonders, having become the IT-girl or boy for a year before fading into obscurity. With Ocean’s 8 ($140 million) and Crazy Rich Asians ($174 million) helping Awkwafina break out, she could easily disappear like the rest of the fads before her. Instead, she keeps the ball rolling in 2019 with Angry Birds 2 and Jumanji 3. At this rate she’s destined to become Crazy Famous.
2) EMILY BLUNT & JOHN KRASINSKI: It takes a lot to be one of the biggest stars of the year and it takes even more to be a Hollywood power couple that actually stays married. John Krasinski co-wrote, directed and starred in this year’s surprise horror hit A Quiet Place. A $188 million domestic gross is hard to come by for first time efforts but Krasinski had the help of a bankable wife and tons of critical acclaim. Not to be outdone by her man, Emily Blunt continued the success with Mary Poppins Returns and these two films will keep these two lovebirds towards the center of attention throughout the upcoming Awards Season.
1) STAN LEE: After 20 films over 10 years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe came to an end. Thanos finally arrived to destroy half the universe and nobody expected legendary comic book creator Stan Lee to be among the losses. The man behind the superheroes spent a lifetime bringing joy and his creations to the public, and it brings fans peace knowing he got to witness the benefits of his work. To have seen the first Avengers break records would have made for a great way to leave this world behind. To stay with us through the 10-year adventure to make sure it ends right feels more like a blessing for fans than it was for Lee. He will remain the godfather to most of our childhoods and the shepherd that helped turn us into responsible, heroic adults. His passing was a crushing blow to my heart and he will be missed for a long time to come, however he will live on forever in his iconic creations that will surely never die. Rest in peace, old friend. May we all “Assemble” as one in your honor.
RECAP #4 - WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
5) HORROR IS HOTTER THAN EVER: Quiet Place’s $188 million, Halloween’s $159 million and The Nun’s $117 million don’t just make these fright flicks the biggest of 2018, but also some of the biggest over the last few years (IT’s $327 million from 2017 notwithstanding). It’s common knowledge that the low-budget horror genre has been hot recently but these three breakouts proved that 2018 was a great year to get scared. With IT: Chapter 2 ready to rock in 2019, it looks like this trend won’t be dying anytime soon.
4) THE ROM-COM RETURNS: Crazy Rich Asians ($174 million) proved the traditional romantic comedy is back with vengeance, while other female-driven hits like Ocean’s 8 ($140 million), Mama Mia 2 ($121 million), Fifty Shades Freed ($100 million), and even Book Club ($69 million), Overboard ($50 million) and I Feel Pretty ($49 million) prove there’s plenty of cash in those purses that’s ready to be spent at a cineplex. It could be argued that the horror hits are slightly more impressive than a rom-com renaissance, but I stand by the thought that love should always win. In that vein, it ranks above the genre that tries to (literally) rip people apart.
3) THE R-COM IS DEAD: It turns out we’ve dried the up the raunchy-comedy well and nobody’s laughing. Plenty of blockbusters have funny bits in them but the first intentional comedy on the year-end charts appears at #38 with the Kevin Hart/Tiffany Haddish team-up Night School earning $77 million. Below that is Game Night ($69 million), Blockers ($60 million), Tag ($55 million), Life of the Party ($53 million), The Spy Who Dumped Me ($34 million), the disastrous Holmes & Watson (maybe $35 million) and just so many other dumpster fires. Maybe horror and romance can teach comedy how to make its own comeback.
2) SUPERHEROES KEEP HOLLYWOOD ALIVE: 2008 was the first time two superhero films were in the Top 3 domestic earners with The Dark Knight ($533 million) at #1 and Iron Man ($318 million) at #2. Most years have only one or NONE! It wouldn’t happen again until 2012 with Avengers ($623 million) at #1 and Dark Knight Rises ($448 million) at #2. “Two in the Top 3” hasn’t happened since. Except, in 2018 all of the Top 3 were superhero movies and all three made over $600 million, something the genre had only earned once before. 2018 brought us Black Panther ($700 million), Avengers 3 ($679 million), and Incredibles 2 ($609 million). Not only is superhero fatigue a joke of the past, it’s safe to say heroes have never been stronger.
#1) DISNEY FOREVER: Those hits aren’t just superhero movies; they’re Disney movies. In fact, half of the domestic Top 10 is Disney. They had their biggest year ($3.09 billion vs 2016’s $3 billion), controlled over 25% of the domestic box office and over 20% of global earnings. These numbers are even more impressive when you consider the underwhelming grosses of Solo, Mary Poppins Returns, A Wrinkle In Time, Christopher Robin and Nutcracker. However, 2019 brings us Captain Marvel, Avengers 4, Dumbo, Aladdin, Lion King, Frozen 2, Toy Story 4, and Star Wars Episode 9. These films will dominate the Top 10 and I expect more broken records. All hail Disney, the true mad titan that’s here to save our box office universe.
RECAP #5 - MY FAVORITE FILMS
5) A QUIET PLACE: Though most of what Blumhouse produces are low budget, super profitable success stories, I find the majority of their product to be just decent horror akin to the 1990’s string of slightly comedic masked killers that butchered TV screen starlets. Despite the monster grosses and critical acclaim that their new Halloween reboot unearthed, I found it long and slightly boring. Honestly, I preferred Halloween: H20 and that falls into the aforementioned category of 90’s horror B-list. Despite the Blumhouse dominance and given how basic I thought Halloween was, this disappointing relaunch of the classic series allowed another horror film to take over and steal the bloodshed. A Quiet Place was not only intense and scary, it was an incredibly successful directorial debut and a stunning example of how loved ones can work together in Hollywood. John Krasinski and Emily Blunt are the new relationship goals for life, as they made one of the best films of the year despite being the most silent. There are films full of speech that can’t accomplish what this movie managed and I can’t wait to see what comes next from this newly minted auteur.
4) CRAZY RICH ASIANS: I really do love LOVE! As a Greek person, many expect my favorite romance to be My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Though it is among my favorites, what is most worth mentioning is that love transcends different cultures. Greeks are a small group of people that made up the $241 million gross it earned. People loved that story because it was about an American man falling for a woman from a strong cultural background. It wouldn’t matter if she was Greek, as an American joining an Italian family would have made for a very similar movie. The same could be said about Crazy Rich Asians. Though there was some Asian-specific comedy within, Crazy Rich was really about a modest girl falling for a wealthy man and how that creates funny drama. Take Asian out of the equation and you are left with a lavish, endearing romance that brought plenty of smiles to my face and butterflies to my stomach. Let’s just hope the next two entries in the trilogy are treated with as much love as respect as this first film.
#3) SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE: Marvel has moved into animation and taken it by storm. Sure, Big Hero 6 was derived from a Marvel comic but Disney chose to abandon all ties with them for that project. That makes Spider-Verse the first animated Marvel movie to hit theaters and it’s about to win the Best Animated Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards. This isn’t just a win for Marvel but a win for the industry. In a year when both Incredibles 2 and Wreck-It Ralph 2 were critically acclaimed entries from Disney, the only Marvel character they still don’t own comes along and puts them to shame. The real kicker? The film was produced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the two genius directors Disney fired half-way through production on Solo. Spider-Verse also just won the Best Animated Film at the Golden Globes! Had that award been given out in 2018 then it may have made the list of Most Pleasant Surprises. As it stands, this brilliant, uniquely animated feature lands on my Top 5 of the year. However, the Lord/Miller as David taking down the Goliath Disney will remain one of the great stories of 2018, even if it just missed the deadline. This proves there is room for success outside of Disney and it remains critical that other studios continue to make product despite the worldwide control of the Mouse House.
2) READY PLAYER ONE: This film could easily be my favorite movie of the year if Marvel hadn’t stuck the landing after a 10-year, 20-film marathon race. It was a photo finish and I’m half-tempted to call it a tie. Since its release on HBO a few weeks back, I have seen this movie maybe two dozen times. Almost every day I turn this pop culture-filled extravaganza on to play in the background while I do my household chores, as the tidal wave of Hollywood references from the 80’ and 90’s make this a two-hour treasure hunt worth watching on endless repeat. Directed by the master himself, Steven Spielberg, this visual organism tells us a story of where we are headed as a human race. Video games will evolve into virtual reality one day, and while the world around us crumbles we will find solace in this online Oasis of endless possibilities and countless references from our favorite films and brands. Of all the dystopian stories told in recent years, this comes the closest to what we can actually expect and, I have to be honest, I CAN’T WAIT! The movie is funny, romantic, clever, exhilarating, wondrous, inspiring, imaginative and everything that's missing from movies these days. Granted, it’s based off of a written story but for most people it was an unknown brand that completely surprises in how freaking amazing it is. As someone born in 1985, I am a prime candidate for all the references thrown at the audience and I acknowledge that may play a part in my love for the movie, and that those born too early or too late may not enjoy it as much as I did. But this isn’t the worlds list. It’s MY list and I can’t stress enough how incredible Ready Player One makes me feel. That first racing scene alone should win Best Picture and Best Director at the Oscars, though I’d be happy just to settle for Best Visual Effects. If you take nothing else from this (accidentally overly long) article, I implore that you check this movie out if you haven’t seen it. Then watch it again. It gets better with each viewing, and goes from starting off as something to behold and grows into something to believe in. This is a world worth watching and loving, and hopefully one we’ll get to live in.
1) AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR: After 10 years and 20 films, what else needs to be said? They did it. Marvel did the thing they said they would do and it was awesome. DC was barely able to juggle a few balls before dropping them all when Justice League shit the bed. Marvel did the opposite. Each time they added to the pile they got better at their craft. With each minor mistake over the years they made distinct efforts to correct their errors. What this led to was a monstrous, jam-packed team-up feature that had countless heroes all fully utilizing their minimal screen time to create one of the most fulfilling cinematic experiences ever. There is so much detailed action and merging storylines that you can’t look away for even a second without missing something, although it takes a true champion of film to run almost three hours without a single moment you’d want to look away from. This is the crowning achievement of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and, at this point, it doesn’t even matter if Avengers: Endgame is any good. The 10 year anniversary of the MCU occurred in 2018 just a few months before the legend Stan Lee passed away. Fate has brought this brand full circle. Bravo, Marvel. If it wasn’t blasphemous to the one true God, I would bow down in your presence.