May 7, 2019
At the end of March, the 2019 box office was at its lowest point when compared to the five last years and trailing 2018 by -16%. By the end of a record-setting April at the domestic box office, that gap in the year-over-year performance started to close with 2019 now trailing 2018 by -11.8%, and just seven days into May that gap continues to shrink as we move into summer 2019.
April 2019 saw record box office grosses topping $1.034 billion in ticket sales, the bulk of which was earned over the final days of the month thanks to the record-breaking release of Avengers: Endgame, which brought in over $427 million (41.3%) of the month’s total grosses. Last year the April box office topped $1 billion for the first time ever, led by Avengers: Infinity War, which also delivered a record-breaking opening, but in the end that film’s $282.4 million comprised only 27.5% of the month’s overall box office. All that being said, while 2019 is currently a down year at the box office, it isn’t as black and white as it may seem.
While 2019 is pacing behind what turned out to be a record-breaking 2018 at the domestic box office, the first four months of 2018 saw over $960 million come from films that were released at the end of 2017, the bulk of which coming from Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle ($235.3 million), The Greatest Showman ($124.6 million) and Star Wars: The Last Jedi ($102.9 million) totaling over $462 million of that figure. Ultimately, Jumanji even ranked within the yearly top ten as the seventh highest grossing release in 2018, which is a rare occurrence at the box office that has only happened two other times in the past ten years — Star Wars: The Force Awakens and American Sniper.
This year Aquaman currently ranks fifth for the year so far with $136 million, but is likely to fall out of the top ten by the end of the year. As a result, at the same point in the year, only $680 million of the 2019 box office so far comes from films released in 2018, a difference of over $280 million compared to the prior year. That said, if we look only at 2019’s releases versus 2018’s releases over the first four months of the year, we find 2019 trailing last year by -6% with plenty of major releases on the horizon.
As for the month of April, beginning with the obvious, Disney led the month with over $556 million from six films in release. The highest grossing among those six was Avengers: Endgame, which brought in $427 million in just five days of release breaking a multitude of records along the way, both domestically and globally. Additionally, Dumbo and Captain Marvel each took in over $61 million.
Overall, Disney has grossed over $1.046 billion as of the end of April, and is the only studio to have crossed $1 billion at the domestic box office so far. That said, the studio was trailing their 2018 total as of the end of April by -13%, mostly due to the sheer size of Black Panther last year, which contributed over $688 million through the end of April last year and the underperformance of Dumbo, which has grossed a little over $110 million domestically so far on a reported budget of $170 million.
Looking ahead, by all indications, Disney has a huge year ahead of them, which means the current lag in grosses compared to last year will soon be wiped away, if not before the May 24 release of Aladdin as Endgame continues to push higher and higher. Beyond that, the release of Toy Story 4 in June and The Lion King in July should be more than enough to energize Disney’s summer 2019.
In second place for the month was Warner Bros. with the release of New Line’s Shazam! ($132 million) and The Curse of La Llorona ($43.5 million), the two of which accounting for nearly 99% of the studio’s $177.5 million for the month from seven total films, including the final $6,128 for A Star is Born, which closed out an epic run totaling 182 days in release with over $215 million at the domestic box office, eight Oscar nominations and one Oscar win. By the end of the month, Warner Bros. had grossed over $535 million so far, up 13.5% compared to last year, and this month will see the studio releasing three new films including this weekend’s highly anticipated Pokemon Detective Pikachu followed by Godzilla: King of the Monsters at the end of the month.
Universal took third for the month of April with the studio’s March release of Jordan Peele‘s Us leading the way with $45.3 million of its now $174 million in domestic box office. The studio also released the body swap comedy Little in April, generating $36.6 million for the month as Universal took in just over $89 million from six films in April, contributing to a strong year so far for the studio. Overall, Universal has grossed over $569 million in 2019 as of the end of April, up 59% compared to last year and their third best start of all-time. This month Universal will debut A Dog’s Journey, a follow-up to A Dog’s Purpose, which grossed $64.5 million in 2017, and the Blumhouse thriller Ma at the end of the month.
Looking at the year overall, Disney leads the way with $1.046 billion as of the end of April followed by Universal ($569.3 million) and Warner Bros. ($535.3 million). While Disney is trailing last year’s grosses at the same point in the year, both Universal and Warner Bros. are outperforming their 2018 grosses through the end of April. To that point, both Lionsgate ($184.3 million) and STX ($134.1 million) are also outpacing their 2018 performances through the end of April by 37.8% and 29.2% respectively.
Sony and Fox are lagging well behind their 2018 grosses so far, but that’s not all that surprising. Sony had the benefit of Jumanji‘s impressive grosses at the beginning of 2018 and the studio has only released three new films so far this year and has a great slate looking ahead beginning in June with Men in Black International (6/14) followed by Spider-Man: Far from Home (7/2) and Quentin Tarantino‘s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which will debut at the Cannes Film Festival ahead of its July 26 release.
As for Fox, the studio has had three new releases this year, the most recent being Breakthrough, which was the first to be released following Disney’s acquisition of the studio. Otherwise, Alita: Battle Angel is on its last legs and didn’t exactly light the domestic box office on fire and The Kid Who Would be King quickly sputtered out with $16.8 million. Fox also didn’t have the benefit of terrific holdovers at the beginning of the year as they did last year in The Greatest Showman and The Post, which added over $200 million to their 2018 box office, not to mention another $30 million from Ferdinand.
Looking ahead, Fox was expected to release the James Gray sci-fi thriller Ad Astra starring Brad Pitt in May, but Disney just shuffled the deck and moved that pic to a more awards-friendly date on September 20, likely targeting a Toronto Film Festival premiere a la Gravity and The Martian. That being said, there will obviously be some ups and downs for the studio following the Disney deal, but films such as Dark Phoenix, Ford v. Ferrari, The Woman in the Window and Spies in Disguise could still result in positive hits for Fox as they find their footing in their new home at the Mouse House.
Finally, a list of selected films that closed out their domestic runs in April is featured below, in descending order by cumulative gross.
- Aquaman (Warner Bros.) – Closed with $335.06M after 105 days in release
- Bohemian Rhapsody (Fox) – Closed with $216.43M after 175 days in release
- A Star is Born (Warner Bros.) – Closed with $215.29M after 182 days in release
- Ralph Breaks the Internet (Disney) – Closed with $201.09M after 142 days in release
- Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (Sony) – Closed with $190.24M after 112 days in release
- Mary Poppins Returns (Disney) – Closed with $171.96M after 114 days in release
- Glass (Universal) – Closed with $111.04M after 77 days in release
- Escape Room (Sony) – Closed with $57.01M after 112 days in release
- What Men Want (Paramount) – Closed with $54.61M after 63 days in release
- Vice (Annapurna) – Closed with $47.84M after 108 days in release
- The Favourite (Fox Searchlight) – Closed with $34.37M after 140 days in release
- Cold Pursuit (Lionsgate) – Closed with $32.14M after 70 days in release
- Happy Death Day 2U (Universal) – Closed with $28.05M after 51 days in release
- The Kid Who Would be King (Fox) – Closed with $16.79M after 70 days in release
- If Beale Street Could Talk (Annapurna) – Closed with $14.92M after 119 days in release
- The Prodigy (Orion) – Closed with $14.86M after 63 days in release
- Greta (Focus) – Closed with $10.52M after 35 days in release
- The Wife (Sony Classics) – Closed with $9.6M after 245 days in release
- Captive State (Focus) – Closed with $5.96M after 21 days in release
- The Wandering Earth (CMC) – Closed with $5.88M after 59 days in release
- Cold War (Amazon) – Closed with $4.58M after 105 days in release
- Everybody Knows (Focus) – Closed with $2.66M after 56 days in release