Biggest Box Office Hits of 2018

Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS) and superheroes -- mostly Marvel characters -- have dominated the 2018 box office. The House of Mouse has had five of the top 10 films when it comes to domestic box office receipts, though one of them was considered a major disappointment.

2018, however, was not a year for original stories. The top 10 was dominated by franchises, sequels, and superheroes. In fact, you have to go all the way to A Quiet Place at No. 12 before you get to an original, non-sequel, non-franchise property, according to data from Box Office Mojo. That film was a surprise hit for Viacom, which also scored an expected smash with No. 6 Mission Impossible: Fallout.

This is the 2018 top 10 (through Dec. 7)

What's very clear is that Disney has the box office formula down. The studio has the top three films of the year, with Black Panther leading the way. That movie was perhaps a bigger hit than expected, beating out Avengers: Infinity War (which also had the Black Panther character in it).

Disney did prove, however, that it can make box office mistakes as well. Solo: A Star Wars Story was a dud. That's a bit rough to say about a film that brought in $392 million at the box office globally. But considering that its Star Wars stand-alone predecessor made over $1 billion, it's clear Solo was a failure. In fact, the movie's performance caused Disney to cancel a number of Star Wars films in development.

Still, it's hard to cry for Disney when it so thoroughly trounced its closest rivals. And while it seems like an off-year for Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA) Universal brand, the film studio had actually already beaten its 2017 total of $1.53 billion in domestic box office by Dec. 2, with $1.66 billion. Warner Bros., which is now owned by AT&T, appears to be the big loser of the year. As of Dec. 2, it was still $372 million behind its 2017 final haul of just over $2 billion, according to Box Office Mojo.

Rank Title Domestic gross
1 Black Panther $700,059,566
2 Avengers: Infinity War $678,815,482
3 Incredibles 2 $608,553,983
4 Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom $416,769,345
5 Deadpool 2 $318,491,426
6 Mission: Impossible - Fallout $220,159,104
7 Ant-Man and the Wasp $216,648,740
8 Solo: A Star Wars Story $213,767,512
9 Venom (2018) $212,376,051
10 Dr. Seuss' The Grinch (2018) $207,259,205

What's coming in 2019?

It seems nearly impossible that Disney will lose its box office crown in 2019. The company has Captain Marvel and an Avengers sequel coming out, along with Frozen 2, Toy Story 4, and Star Wars IX. It also has live action versions of The Lion King and Aladdin planned.

Universal, generally Disney's top rival, has more films planned, but it's a little short on obvious blockbusters. It does have a How to Train Your Dragon sequel, Secret Life of Pets 2, and a Fast & The Furious spinoff starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

Warner Bros. looks like it could challenge for the second spot in 2019 with The LEGO Movie 2, Aquaman, Shazam, Godzilla: King of Monsters, and It 2. Sony may also be a contender for the runner-up spot with Spider-Man: Far From Home, a Men In Black film, a Charlie's Angels reboot, a Jumanji sequel, and Angry Birds 2.

What's very clear is that it would take a lot of surprise hits and some shocking failures for Disney to not retain its status as box office leader. Unless the American public loses interest in superheroes and animated sequels, that seems very unlikely.

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Daniel B. Kline has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Comcast. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.