In the sixth-year running of Deadline’s Most Valuable Blockbuster Tournament, it’s Anthony and Joe Russo who get to climb the ladder and cut the net after directing 2018’s most profitable movie. Disney-Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War earned $500M after a $1.27 billion global B.O. take. It won’t come as a surprise if we see the duo here again this year with all the recent buzz of how their sequel Avengers: Endgame is expected to tear up all of Infinity War‘s records roughly two weeks from now. Jon Favreau’s The Lion King has yet to roar, but there’s every reason to imagine Endgame outpacing Infinity War.
Already, Endgame owns the all-time 24 hour record for a film’s first day pre-sales, and wild optimists forecast that the sequel could get as high as a $1 billion worldwide in its first weekend.
While James Cameron owns the top two grossing movies of all-time worldwide, Avatar ($2.78B) and Titanic ($2.18B), it also wouldn’t be out of the question for the Russos to lock down spots three and five with Endgame and Infinity War; the latter at $2.05B already is only $20M behind JJ Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens which ranks third.
In the wake of their success the Russos are paying it forward to a new generation of filmmakers, cultivating new cinematic voices at their AGBO studio, similar to how Steven Soderbergh took the duo under his wing after seeing their 1997 debut avant garde debut Pieces at Slamdance. Because they included pricey music in that film they couldn’t afford, Soderbergh was among a handful of people who ever even saw that film (many in the theater walked out). In terms of the Russos’ resonance in town post Avengers, Deadline exclusively announced yesterday that they made a non-exclusive creative partnership to co-develop, co-produce and co-finance a slate of iconic properties from the MGM library.
This year also marked the second back-to-back year that Disney won the Blockbuster Tournament after last year’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi made $417.5M. It is the third time the Mouse took the bows since we kicked off this profit ranking during the 2014 NCAA season.
It was a big year for superhero films: six of them crowded 2018’s top ten most profitable films versus 2017’s four: Wonder Woman, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Statistically speaking, film finance executives say that it’s the $100M-plus budgeted movies which have the higher probability of turning a profit. But what 2018 continued to show was that low-to-mid budget titles still have the potential to flourish against tent poles at the multiplex, and not be swallowed up by streaming (which is the fate of comedies and dramas). That was evident in three pics with budgets less than $100M –The Grinch, Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star Is Born– squeezing their way into the top list, not to mention the cash cows that were highlighted in our honorable mention list. While there has been plenty of concerns around town that Disney’s domination of box office will be exacerbated by its inhalation of Fox’s film divisions — particularly with their combined Marvel might of Avengers and X-Men movies — some believe that’s not an automatic. If Disney ultimately slows down the Fox pipeline, then it’s an opportunity for rivals to have a greater footprint with low-to-mid-budget fare. That said, both studios can lay claim to half of the most profitable movies in our top 10.
This tournament was set up as an annual Deadline feature to provide a better idea of bottom line performance, beyond the weekend and annual box office standings. As a final cap, Deadline Hollywood provides readers with the revenue and costs charts of all 10 films that participated, as well as five honorable mentions and the year’s top five misfires.
Big shout out to Deadline Co-Editor-in-Chief Mike Fleming Jr., Managing Editor Patrick Hipes and Graphic Designer Brandon Choe who made Deadline’s Most Valuable Blockbuster Tournament possible.
Deadline’s Top 10 of 2018
Rank | Movie | (Studio) | Net Profit
- The Avengers: Infinity War (Disney/Marvel) – $500M
- Black Panther (Disney/Marvel) – $476.8M
- Incredibles 2 (Disney/Pixar) – $447.4M
- Bohemian Rhapsody (20th Century Fox/New Regency) – $350.8M
- Aquaman (WB/DC) – $260.5M
- Venom (Sony) – $246.9M
- Deadpool 2 (Fox) – $235.4M
- Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Universal) – $222.8M
- Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (Illumination/Universal) – $184.6M
- A Star Is Born (WB) – $178.1M
HONORABLE MENTION: The Nun (New Line) – $155M, Halloween (Uni/Miramax/Blumhouse) – $128.5M), Crazy Rich Asians (WB) – $120.8M, A Quiet Place (Par) – $93M and Green Book (Uni/Amblin/Participant Media) – $39.5M
TOP FIVE MISFIRES: Mortal Engines (Uni) – –$174.8M, A Wrinkle in Time (Dis) – –$130.6M, Robin Hood (Lionsgate) – –$83.7M, Solo: A Star Wars Story (Dis) – –$76.9M, and The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (Dis) – –$65.8M.