×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Aquaman,’ ‘A Star Is Born’ Propel Warner Bros. to 2018 Global Box Office Record (EXCLUSIVE)

Thanks to the smash successes of “Aquaman,” “A Star Is Born,” and “The Meg,” Warner Bros. capped off 2018 with a new milestone. The studio had its biggest year to date at the worldwide box office, crossing $5.6 billion in ticket sales and outpacing 2017 by 9%.

Both domestic and international markets contributed to the boost in ticket sales, putting the studio behind Disney at No 2. in terms of market share.

The studio’s North American box office bounty crossed $1.9 billion. Overseas, Warner Bros. generated $3.6 billion, an uptick of 17% from 2017 and eclipsing the record of $3.17 billion set in 2014.

The improvement was due in part to foreign markets, where Warner Bros. saw record years in 21 territories, including China, Russia, and Ukraine. Titles that did modest business in the states like “Ready Player One” and “Rampage,” were able to pull in crowds and resonate in a big way overseas.

“Non-traditional films really worked in those regions, and that was very interesting,” said Tom Molter, Warner Bros.’ head of international distribution. “That means audiences are very receptive to go to the movies and see good stories. That’s very encouraging.”

Warner Bros.’ record year came despite some fierce headwinds in major markets. Multiplexes in Italy, Spain, and South Korea suffered some declines and China’s growth slowed to 9%.

Still, China had a banner year for the studio and brought in over $951 million. Jason Momoa’s glistening abs — paired with the appeal of “Furious 7” director James Wan — were able to lure moviegoers and make “Aquaman” a roaring achievement. It’s now both Warner Bros. and DC’s highest-grossing movie to date in the Middle Kingdom.

Not all titles that struck a chord in Hollywood were able to find their footing overseas. “Crazy Rich Asians,” for example, couldn’t find an audience in China. That’s partially because what made the film become a cultural touchstone in North America was the novelty of having a big-budget studio romantic comedy with an all-Asian cast for the first time in 25 years. It didn’t hold the same resonance in the mainland, where most theatrical releases feature Asian talent.

“China is such an interesting place because it’s very unpredictable,” Molter said. “When you can get a movie that really resonates with Chinese audiences, it makes a big difference.”

Overall, a diverse slate of blockbusters buoyed revenues to new heights. “Aquaman” was Warner Bros.’ top earning movie of the year worldwide with $850 million and counting, while “A Star Is Born” was the sole title to cross $200 million in North America in 2018. “Aquaman” didn’t pass that milestone domestically until January. The studio’s other biggest films globally include “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” ($631 million), “Ready Player One” ($582 million), and “The Meg” ($528 million).

Correction: This article originally erroneously stated that Warner Bros. crossed $42 billion worldwide, which is the industry’s total global box office haul, not the studio’s revenues. 

More Film

  • 'Shazam!' Review: Zachary Levi is Pure

    Film Review: 'Shazam!'

    In “Shazam!,” Zachary Levi brings off something so winning it’s irresistible. He plays a square-jawed, rippling-muscled man of might, with a cheesy Day-Glo lighting bolt affixed to his chest, who projects an insanely wholesome and old-fashioned idea of what a superhero can be. But he’s also playing a breathless teenage kid on the inside, and [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Showrunners, Screenwriters Back WGA in Agency Battle, Sides to Meet Again Tuesday

    More than 750 showrunners and screenwriters have backed the WGA’s battle against talent agencies taking packaging fees and other changes to the rules governing the business relationship between agents and writers. The letter of support issued Saturday is significant because of the immense clout showrunners and prominent screenwriters possess in Hollywood. Several showrunners had recently [...]

  • Doppelgänger Red (Lupita Nyong'o) and Adelaide

    Box Office: 'Us' on Track for Second-Highest Debut of 2019 With $67 Million

    Jordan Peele’s “Us” is on its way to scaring up one of the biggest debuts of 2019, with an estimated $67 million from 3,741 North American locations. Should estimates hold, “Us” will be able to claim several milestones: the highest debut for an original horror movie (the biggest launch for any horror pic goes to [...]

  • NF_D_JGN-D6-2160.cr2

    Film Review: 'The Dirt'

    A long time ago, the words sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll carried a hint of danger. The lifestyle did, too, but I’m talking about the phrase. It used to sound cool (back around the time the word “cool” sounded cool). But sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll has long since passed into the realm [...]

  • James Newton Howard Danny Elfman

    New Trend in Concert Halls: Original Music by Movie Composers — No Film Required

    Movie and TV composers are in greater demand than ever for, surprisingly, new music for the concert hall. For decades, concert commissions for film composers were few and far between. The increasing popularity of John Williams’ film music, and his visibility as conductor of the Boston Pops in the 1980s and ’90s, led to his [...]

  • Idris Elba Netflix 'Turn Up Charlie'

    Idris Elba in Talks to Join Andy Serkis in 'Mouse Guard'

    Idris Elba is in negotiations to join Andy Serkis and Thomas Brodie-Sangster in Fox’s fantasy-action movie “Mouse Guard” with “Maze Runner’s” Wes Ball directing. Fox is planning a live-action movie through performance capture technology employed in the “Planet of the Apes” films, in which Serkis starred as the ape leader Caesar. David Peterson created, wrote, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content