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Hollywood insiders explain why the box office has rebounded in 2018

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black panther poster
“Black Panther” is the top grossing movie of 2018
domestically so far with over $700 million
earned.

Marvel

  • The 2018 box office is up 9% from last year and the
    summer movie season is up over 11%.
  • This has happened thanks to sequels working and
    audiences flocking to diverse titles like “Black Panther” and
    “Crazy Rich Asians.”

At the start of 2018, the forecast for the box office was not
great.

Coming off a 2017 when Hollywood saw one of the worst summer
movie seasons in history, and a year when movie
attendance was at its lowest in 25 years
, Wall Street

braced everyone for an unremarkable 2018
.

But so far the 2018 box office hasn’t just turned out to be
better than 2017, it’s having one of its best in recent memory.

Not only are all the sequels hitting on the mark or better than
projected (remember when we were complaining
there were too many sequels being made
?), but there are also
movies being released by the major studios that cater to diverse
audiences, and those have turned out to be cash
cows, too. Highlights include Disney’s “Black Panther” in the
beginning of the year and Warner Bros.’ “Crazy Rich Asians” to
close out the summer.

“Diversity and inclusion in film is paying off big,” comScore
box-office analyst Paul
Dergarabedian told Business Insider. “’Black Panther’
was important on so many levels: box office, culturally, how it
resonated with audiences around the world. It set the tone in a
lot of ways in how the year was going to be different, but much
more exciting and financially more robust than anyone had
imagined.”


Crazy Rich Asians
From “Black Panther” to “Crazy Rich Asians,” diversity
in movies is paying off big time.

Warner Bros.

And things have only gotten better in the summer months, as the
box office compared to last summer is up over 11%. Some observers
believed the only way the box office could go was up, as 2017’s
summer was the worst in decades. However, the amount of movies
that worked between the release of “Avengers: Infinity War” in
late April to “Crazy Rich Asians” this past weekend was
staggering.

So what was so different from this summer season compared to
last? Could a MoviePass bump be the reason?

Since the movie-ticket subscription service changed to a
$9.95-per-month model to see one movie a day, it has gained over
3 million subscribers. And its members used the service so much
over this summer that MoviePass barely stayed in business by
August.

“Credit MoviePass a little,” Jeff Bock, senior analyst for
Exhibitor Relations, told Business Insider. “They have
certainly helped create a bigger appetite for audiences.”

MoviePass boasted that it’s responsible for 6% of the domestic
box office take this year (which is currently up 9% compared to
this time last year).

However, not everyone is sold.


MoviePass
MoviePass boasts that it’s
responsible for 6% of the 2018 box office. So is there such a
thing as a MoviePass bump?

Hollis
Johnson/Business Insider


“I don’t know, I feel like it still just comes down to the
content,” Dergarabedian said about a possible MoviePass bump. “I
don’t see that as the driving force. It’s more emotionally driven
than financially driven. I think more important is what is the
social media chatter about a movie. I would lay any boom or bust
more at the doorstep of social media than any other factor.”

What everyone can agree on is that the 2018 box office has been
fueled by the success of movie sequels this summer, which in past
years have not done so well. However, in 2018 it seems Hollywood
concocted the perfect formula of franchises audiences wanted to
see — “The Avengers,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Incredibles,”
“Deadpool,” “Jurassic World” — and followed through by making
good sequels.

“There were really no high-profile bombs this summer,” Bock
pointed out. “That’s a lot of credit for Hollywood, as audiences
are more apt to sample another sequel if the hits keep coming.
Negative reviews and media scrutiny can actually erode the entire
box office when bombs are dropping left and right.”

But the hit sequels are not a surprise at the studios.
Universal’s president of domestic theatrical distribution, Jim
Orr, told Business Insider that last year’s stories about the
death of the summer movie season were greatly exaggerated.

“I promise you this is not hindsight or Monday morning
quarterbacking, last summer had a couple of titles move out of
late summer and you had a couple of titles that underperformed
and then all of a sudden you had some of the trades, which should
have known better, writing the death of the industry and that was
just never going to be the case,” he said. “There was just too
much good product to be slated for this year, and the year after,
and the year after.” 


jurassic world fallen kingdom
Universal’s “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” is the
studio’s top earner of the year, so far. But it has also found
success with titles ranging from the comedy “Blockers” to the
actioner “Skyscraper.”

Universal

Though Disney is still ruling the box office this year with
titles like “Black Panther,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” and
“Incredibles 2,” Universal always brings a more diverse slate to
audiences and is in second place with releases
like “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” “Mamma Mia! Here We Go
Again,” the teen comedy surprise hit “Blockers,” and
“Skyscraper,” which even though hasn’t done well domestically,
has earned over $225 million
internationally. 

Orr believes the successful 2018 box office has proven that
audiences don’t want just superhero movies. They want a range of
stories to choose from at the multiplex.

“We purposely have a very diversified approach to our slate,” he
said. “We did exactly that in the summer of 2018, it’s just the
perfect example of trying to reach every audience and have
something for everybody. Different genres available to the
audience can pay off extraordinarily well.”

But will the Wall Street forcasts come to fruition the rest of
the year? Titles like “Venom,” “Aquaman,” and “Mary Poppins
Returns” are the big moneymakers on paper. But they could bomb.


Venom Sony
Will “Venom” be one of the
breakout box office hits in the fall?

Sony

And this year, there is no “Star Wars” end-of-the-year release to
pick up any slack. 2018 marks the first time since 2014 (the year
before “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” opened) that Disney is not
releasing a movie from the beloved saga in December. It released
“Solo: A Star Wars Story” in May.

“We’re not going to have a good September,” Dergarabedian said,
pointing to the fact that last year’s September did so well
because of the record-breaking success of Warner Bros.’ “It.”
There’s no major title like that slated for September.

“But there’s a lot still on the way,” he added. “The Oscar season
films could break out, especially the ones that are topical.
That’s the nature of the beast, it’s a cyclical business.”

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