May 2018 Box Office Recap

By Steven Slater

June 12, 2018

The movie that poses the question: Which of these guys named Chris is the hottest?

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Phil? Phil Connors! It’s me, Ned Ryerson! Massive Marvel movies are only supposed to come once a year, right? Right?? Anyways, it’s May, we’re in the middle of the 2010’s, so let’s just cut to the chase and say that Marvel won the month. The last time Marvel did not win the first month of the summer movie season was 2014 when Maleficent just barely outgrossed X-Men: Days of Future Past, which means it was a Disney/Marvel one-two punch anyway so let’s stop splitting hairs. Even though this year went one better with a one-two-three punch of Disney and Marvel, not all roses in this parade are fresh. Much as Pixar was once lauded as nigh invincible, things that are certain in film cannot last forever, and Solo is unfortunately the beginning of a new chapter for the most important film franchise in history. It is a bitter pill to swallow, even if number one numbs the pain somewhat.

1) Avengers: Infinity War

Monthly Box Office: $350.1M

Comic book movie fatigue? That seems about as certain as Hillary Clinton winning the White House at this point. A mere two months after the biggest comic book movie of all time, another contender enters the ring, attempting to dethrone Black Panther. Although Avengers: IW opened bigger at the tail end of last month, Panther looks to retain the crown with legs that are going to take it to within a hair’s breadth of $700 million. Avengers, earning more in May than it did in April, should make it to around $670 million becoming the second biggest comic book film of all time, and fourth of any film just ahead of Titanic. Combined with Panther being third best of all time domestic, and each being in the top ten worldwide, that’s a good year. Maybe the best of years. After a few more weeks Avengers should top The Force Awakens worldwide, which really goes to show which franchise is on top these days.

2) Deadpool 2

Opening Weekend: $125.5 M
Monthly Box Office: $231.3M

The merc with a mouth came back for more, and the reception seems...lukewarm. The critical and monetary responses have been just slightly below the original, which is both good and bad. Given that Deadpool the first opened to a then record in February, the fact that the second coming of DP opened with less in May must seem a bit troubling. Then again, Fox must feel mighty proud of itself compared to Lucasfilm, as Deadpool 2 will earn around 90% what the first did in the states, and should out-earn the original worldwide. Perhaps the shine has simply come off a property which aims to lampoon its genre while simultaneously adhering to its basic principles. With films such as Thor: Ragnarok and Ant Man successfully playing with comic book movie conventions, there seems to be a little less urgency for everyone to see the most crass of superheroes.

3) Solo: A Star Wars Story

Opening Weekend: $84.4M
Monthly Box Office: $119.6M

I’ve got a bad feeling about this. You must unlearn what you have learned about this franchise, as Solo appears aimed for a domestic total lower than the opening weekend of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. In fact, Solo might be lucky to earn what The Force Awakens made within two days! Believe it or not, that bad news extends worldwide, where Star Wars has never performed as well as other big franchises. Solo will be the only Star Wars movie not to earn a half a billion dollars worldwide, although The Empire Strikes Back required the special edition re-release to cross that mark. If everyone believes the lowest grossing Star Wars films are the best ones, then Solo’s in great company.

This is definitely the big box office story of the month, and maybe for the year. After all, the last Star Wars Story, Rogue One, earned nearly as much as the mainstream Last Jedi. Given that Rogue One also had a troubled production with reshoots, why would Solo, with perhaps the favorite character of the franchise, bomb so badly? There’s the idea that we just had a Star Wars movie, but then again Black Panther and Avengers were released even closer together and both are stretching towards $700 million domestic. They are continuations of the same larger story, though. There’s the idea that the reshoots and general bad vibes surrounding the project turned people off before the film was even finished, yet somehow Rogue One countered that successfully. Perhaps people were turned off by someone other than Harrison Ford portraying Han Solo. Blade Runner 2049 was well regarded, but it did not succeed much at the box office with Ryan Gosling being the star and Ford relegated to a supporting role. Whatever the solo, or sum causes, Solo is a disaster for Disney and Lucasfilm, which will really change the future trajectory of not just Star Wars Story projects like Boba Fett or Yoda, but also the new ideas that are being developed with Rian Johnson and others. I, for one, think Solo turned out just fine as a film, and still retain hope that the Force is strong with this franchise.


4) Overboard

Opening Weekend: $14.7M
Monthly Box Office: $43.5M

More deja vu, as another property is resurrected from thirty years ago. Often these films seem to disappear quickly, leaving the original to maintain its place in history. Sometimes they are unmitigated disasters, like Total Recall (remember that?), yet once in a blue moon one takes off, such as last year’s It. Overboard tried mixing up the roles once filled with Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, now having the man be the one who loses his memory. I swear the original movie only became famous by playing every other day on TBS. If there’s any consolation, it’s that the remake, with Anna Farris and Eugenia Derbez, will earn close to twice what the original did.

5) Life of the Party

Opening Weekend: $17.9M
Monthly Box Office: $42.8M

Melissa McCarthy went for a bit of counter-programming against the big blockbusters of May, and basically split the returns equally among the other middle tier releases. Continuing a trend where the films McCarthy makes with her husband as director do worse critically and financially, Life of the Party will wind up just under The Boss, around $50 million. Party was also her worst wide opening in years, since 2012’s This is 40, and is her worst opening as a leading lady. I am guessing her two other releases this year will make more of an impact, even if they are likely to earn a lot less.

6) Book Club

Opening Weekend: $13.6M
Monthly Box Office: $40.5M

And the winner for the most counter of all programming this month goes to Book Club. I still wonder why Sam Elliot did not demand a role in this film. About a million actors and actresses got together to make a movie where they can basically have fun and earn a paycheck doing it, and some of them were undoubtedly happy to do so for the first time in a while. I think we live in a strange world where Twilight inspires fan fiction that later inspires a movie where a bunch of women read that fan fiction and hilarity ensues. Next will be the movie based on a tweet.

7) Breaking In

Opening Weekend: $17.6M
Monthly Box Office: $38.5M

Breaking In has the distinction of being from the director of V for Vendetta, and will be his biggest hit since that film. Gabrielle Union also has her biggest hit since 2014’s Think Like a Man Too. With Acrimony only making $43 million while having Tyler Perry’s name attached, Breaking In has to be seen as a mild success. Unfortunately, both films were poorly received, and Breaking In will soon be in the bargain bin. At least it can say it opened nearly as high as Melissa McCarthy’s latest, and on about two third the screens.

8) A Quiet Place

Monthly Box Office: $32.3M

The little horror film that could is the first true holdover from April, given that Avengers cheated. A Quiet Place has earned over $180 million, and has remained in the top ten for two months. As ridiculous and incredible as it seems, A Quiet Place will likely earn more than Solo. Not only that, but it is Paramount’s biggest hit in three years, although the next Mission: Impossible film debuts next month. Recent horror films are able to hit a nerve, and break out in absolutely stupendous ways, and it is good to see quality rewarded so well.

9) I Feel Pretty

Monthly Box Office: $17.7M

Last year Amy Schumer brought Goldie Hawn out of retirement for Snatched. This year she stars in a new film, and Overboard is remade. Tell me something has gone wrong with time itself and I’ll start believing it. Schumer has only been in a handful of features, and I Feel Pretty will slightly outgross her last, the aforementioned Snatched. High social commentary this is not, however, and Pretty will make do being the biggest film for STX Entertainment outside of its Bad Mom’s movies.

10) Rampage

Monthly Box Office: $16M

I bet Dwayne Johnson and Alden Ehrenreich are both downing a few, pondering the vagaries of summer box office. What’s a guy have to do to open a tentpole film these days in the period between May 1st and Labor Day? Rampage, adhering to the genre of disaster porn, will limp its way to about $95 million domestic, or less than a quarter of what Jumanji earned. I will chalk that up to whatever disease Star Wars contracted, as any big release from December saw it’s brethren release this year shrivel and die. I fear for Skyscraper.

May really did not have a ton of wide releases, as many films avoided the trio of blockbusters scheduled to suck the wind out of the room. Beyond Book Club, the next highest openers in May were Show Dogs, Tully, Bad Samaritan and Nothing to Lose. Two documentaries fared well in limited release, as Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Pope Francis had films made about them each earn a few million for the month. This May also did much better than last year, mostly because there was an additional blockbuster added in. Last year had Guardians of the Galaxy and Pirates of the Caribbean to fill the Avengers and Solo slots, and Deadpool was this year’s rainbow frosting on top. The top twenty films just barely earned a billion dollars in May, which will be the first time since the last Avengers that that has happened. As more big movies fill each and every month in the calendar, the summer season has lost a bit of its luster. And to be honest, I have no true idea why Solo did so poorly compared to other Star Wars films and other releases this month. Somebody should have told poor Han the odds.



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