Sunday, January 20, 2019

The highest grossing speculative fiction films of 2018

On National Science Fiction Day this year, I made an excuse for not following precedent.
Happy National Science Fiction Day!  For reasons I will explain later, I am not in a position to review the box office performance of 2019's speculative fiction movies.  I'll probably do that next week.
It took even longer than that, but I'm finally getting around to doing so after returning home from traveling.

I open with an overview of the year in film at the domestic box office from Beyond The Trailer, Top Ten 2018 Movies - Box Office Breakdown.

Top Ten 2018 Movies today! Beyond The Trailer's box office breakdown for 2018! Disney dominates! Hit movies vs flops & bombs!
Top Ten Movies 2018 today, at the box office! Beyond The Trailer host Grace Randolph's breakdown and review of 2018 movies at the box office, including Disney, Warner Bros, Universal, Fox, Sony and Paramount! Where Infinity War, Black Panther, Incredibles 2, Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom, Aquaman, Venom and more stood on the domestic and worldwide top ten lists!
All but one of the top ten by domestic box office as of the end of last year are speculative fiction films of one sort or other except "Mission Impossible: Fallout."  Even that one is a genre film (action), so it would be one I would vote on at this year's Saturn Awards.  The global box office showed only slightly less taste for escapism, as "Bohemian Rhapsody" is the only non-genre film in the worldwide top ten by box office.  By the way, all the Disney films are speculative fiction.

Follow over the jump for the top speculative films released in 2018 by genre from Box Office Mojo retrieved this afternoon, so that the current weekends receipts are included in the totals.

I have added my opinions of the likely nominees in each category at this year's Saturn Awards to the box office rankings and totals.

Comic Book/Superhero

1    Black Panther                $700,059,566
2    Avengers: Infinity War            $678,815,482
5    Deadpool 2                    $318,491,426
6    Aquaman                    $304,336,848
9    Ant-Man and the Wasp            $216,648,740
11    Venom (2018)                $213,490,775
21    Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse*    $158,256,385
91    Teen Titans Go! To The Movies*    $29,790,236
148    Once Upon a Deadpool            $6,095,422

As I wrote last year, "Unlike the other genres, these movies are all in the same ballpark in terms of box office."  The exceptions are the two animated features, which I marked with an asterisk, and the PG-13 re-release of "Deadpool 2," "Once Upon a Deadpool."  Those three are responsible for increasing the field from six to nine over last year.

The animated films probably won't be nominated for Best Comic-to-Motion Picture Release at the Saturn Awards, although "Teen Titans Go! To The Movies" might just sneak in if it does not earn a nomination for Best Animated Film Release, and the last I really consider just a different version of the R-rated "Deadpool 2."  It might still earn a nomination if the selection committee insists on six nominees yet doesn't include "Alita: Battle Angel," which will be released on February 13, just before the deadline, as a comic book movie.

Projected nominees for Best Comic-to-Motion Picture Release at the Saturn Awards: "Avengers: Infinity War," "Deadpool 2," "Aquaman," "Ant-Man and the Wasp," and "Venom."  "Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse" probably deserves the spot, but probably won't get it if it is also nominated for Best Animated Film Release, so I am leaving the sixth spot open.  What about "Black Panther?"  It already won this category last year.

Animated Movies

3    Incredibles 2                    $608,581,744
7    Dr. Seuss' The Grinch (2018)            $270,085,325
14    Ralph Breaks the Internet            $191,436,032
17    Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation    $167,510,016
21    Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse*        $158,256,385
37    Smallfoot                        $83,240,103
67    Sherlock Gnomes                    $43,242,871
84    Isle Of Dogs                    $32,015,231
91    Teen Titans Go! To The Movies*        $29,790,236
133    Early Man                        $8,267,544
152    My Hero Academia: Two Heroes            $5,754,556   
168    Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero            $3,782,328
191    Mary and the Witch's Flower            $2,418,404

This wasn't as good a year for animation as last year, when 18 films made the top 20 in box office and I mentioned a nineteenth.  This year, only 13 animated films entered the top 20 in domestic receipts.  Still, I think the top five movies are as good as any of last year's.

Last year, the Saturn Awards only nominated five films for Best Animated Film Release.  If so, the top five films would be a good field.  For a sixth film, I would hope they skip over to "Isle of Dogs," but they might include "Smallfoot," "Teen Titans Go! To The Movies," or "The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part," which will be released next month before the eligibility deadline.  "Early Man," which earned a nomination at the Annie Awards, almost certainly won't be nominated, as it was released the same day as "Black Panther," which just made the eligibility deadline last year, although that is based on when the film is screened for the Saturn Awards electors in Los Angeles, not the film's general release date.

Projected nominees at the Saturn Awards for Best Animated Film Release at the Saturn Awards: "Incredibles 2, "Dr. Seuss' The Grinch (2018)," "Ralph Breaks the Internet," "Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation," "Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse," and "Isle Of Dogs."

Science Fiction

4    Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom    $417,719,760
10    Solo: A Star Wars Story            $213,767,512
24    Ready Player One                $137,690,172
29    Bumblebee                    $112,393,676
31    Rampage (2018)                $101,028,233
47    Pacific Rim Uprising            $59,874,525
49    Maze Runner: The Death Cure        $58,032,443
54    The Predator (2018)            $51,024,708
79    Alpha                        $35,857,181
83    Annihilation                $32,732,301
110    Mortal Engines                $15,951,040
119    The Darkest Minds                $12,695,691
121    Upgrade                    $11,977,130
143    A.X.L.                    $6,501,381
154    Kin                        $5,718,096

I listed three more science fiction movies this year than last, so in that regard, 2018 was a better year for the genre than 2017.  Still, this may be just as mediocre a year in terms of quality, although I don't think it was any worse.  In addition, I'm not too sure about where the Saturn Awards selection committee will place some of these films.  Some, such as "Rampage," "Pacific Rim: Uprising," and "Mortal Engines," might be classed as fantasy, "Alpha" as action, and "Upgrade" as horror.  That written, here is my projected field for Best Science Fiction Release at the Saturn Awards: "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," "Solo: A Star Wars Story," "Ready Player One," "Bumblebee," "The Predator (2018)," and "Annihilation."


15    A Quiet Place                $188,024,361
18    Halloween (2018)                $159,342,015
22    The Meg                    $145,443,742
26    The Nun                    $117,450,119
39    The First Purge                $69,488,745
44    Insidious: The Last Key            $67,745,330
61    Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween    $46,700,633
65    Hereditary                    $44,069,456
70    Truth or Dare                $41,411,015
89    Slender Man                    $30,569,484
94    Winchester                    $25,091,816
95    Strangers: Prey at Night        $24,586,708
99    Overlord                    $21,704,844
115    The Possession of Hannah Grace    $14,708,520
124    Hell Fest                    $11,107,431
137    Unsane                    $7,732,899   
177    Bad Samaritan                $3,435,047   
189    Suspiria                    $2,483,472

I compiled this year's releases to include the horror movies from Rotten Tomatoes list of top-rated horror movies but no other thrillers in the top 200, so comparison with last year's releases for numbers does not work.  Just the same, 2018 was as good a year for horror movies as 2017, even if "Halloween" is not "It" at the box office.  "A Quiet Place," on the other hand, out-earned "Get Out."

To determine my list of nominees for Best Horror Film Release at the Saturn Awards, I'm going to run down the list and eliminate any films that debuted on or before February 16, 2018.  That leaves "A Quiet Place," "Halloween (2018)," "The Meg," "The Nun," and "The First Purge" before I have to use much judgment.  "The Meg" might be moved to Thriller, but I doubt it, although the selection committee likes its horror supernatual, not realistic, so "The First Purge" might not survive the cut either, or futuristic, which keeps "The Predator" in science fiction.  The Saturn Awards also tends to move horror comedies to fantasy (if it's more funny than scary, it's not horror), so "Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween" is out, leaving "Hereditary."  If "The Meg" gets moved, then I expect the nominations might jump all the way down to "Suspiria."  It's also possible that the selection committee might include the just-released "Escape Room," or the yet to be released "The Prodigy" or "Happy Death Day 2U," both of which will meet the eligibility deadline.


19    Mary Poppins Returns                    $158,731,814
20    Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald    $158,620,988
28    Peter Rabbit                        $115,253,424
32    A Wrinkle in Time                        $100,478,608
34    Disney's Christopher Robin                $99,215,042
42    The House With A Clock In Its Walls            $68,549,695
50    The Nutcracker and the Four Realms            $54,858,851
72    Paddington 2                        $40,891,591
87    Robin Hood (2018)                        $30,824,628
101    The Happytime Murders                    $20,706,452
125    Welcome to Marwen                        $10,763,520

This is the category where I have the least confidence that the Saturn Awards selection committee will agree with my selection, as they are likely to move films from science fiction and horror here.  That written, my list is larger than last year and likely to grow as movies like "Rampage" and "Mortal Engines" from 2018 are considered here and the about to be released "The Kid Who Would be King" is added.

As for which movies will make the list of nominees for Best Fantasy Film Release at the Saturn Awards, I offer the following: "Mary Poppins Returns," "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald," "A Wrinkle in Time," "Disney's Christopher Robin," "The House With A Clock In Its Walls," and "The Nutcracker and the Four Realms."  Of all of them, "The House With A Clock In Its Walls" is the weakest nominee and the most likely to be replaced by another movie, probably one of "Rampage," "Mortal Engines," or "The Kid Who Would be King."

That's it for the box office report for speculative films released in 2018.  Stay tuned for this year's edition of celebrating diversity in awards shows nominees and winners for MLK Day possibly followed by an entry about the Razzies.

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