It will be difficult to top 2018’s banner year at the box office. A number of overperforming blockbusters, combined with a healthy crop of surprise hits, propelled the domestic market to record heights. It’s safe to say this year has its work cut out for it.
Fortunately, an intrepid lion cub, a demonic dancing clown and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are riding to the rescue. Industry analysts and studio heads are bullish that 2019’s slate of films is strong enough to match — or even surpass — last year’s bounty. There will be one big winner even if ticket sales fall short of a record. As Disney prepares to merge with Fox, the Magic Kingdom’s chokehold on the box office is only going to intensify.
Inevitably, there will be bombs amid the blockbusters. In addition to predicting which films will score over the next 12 months, we also take a look at the movies that face headwinds. Here’s a survey of the coming crop of what figure to be hits and potential misses.
The Lion King, Disney
Just about every person on the planet is familiar with the story of Simba’s coming of age. Combine that awareness with the prospect of hearing Beyoncé sing “Circle of Life,” and it’s a safe bet that Jon Favreau’s take on the iconic Disney tale will be massive. “Hakuna matata,” indeed.
“Avengers: Endgame,” Disney
“Infinity War” dominated the box office last summer, but the sequel could give its predecessor’s $2 billion global haul a run for its money. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) are among the spandexed heroes reteaming to defeat Thanos in what will surely be an epic conclusion.
“It: Chapter 2,” Warner Bros.
Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of “It” was such a runaway success, raking in $700 million on a $35 million production budget, that it’s hard to imagine the second chapter of Stephen King’s novel failing to deliver. Pennywise the Dancing Clown returns to theaters the same weekend the original did two years ago. All signs point to the shape-shifter striking twice.
“Jumanji 3,” Sony
If the filmmakers are able to recapture the magic that catapulted 2017’s “Jumanji” to nearly $1 billion at the box office, Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson will have another gargantuan hit on their hands.
M. Night Shyamalan’s film combines superheroes and horror — two genres that couldn’t be hotter at the box office. The thriller has Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson reprising their roles from 2000’s “Unbreakable” and James McAvoy returning as Kevin Wendell Crumb from “Split.” This is a match-up that will leave fanboys and fangirls salivating.
“Pokémon: Detective Pikachu,” Warner Bros.
Kids love their Pokémon cards. But the history of video-game-to-big-screen adaptations is filled with more flops than hits. Don’t believe us? Just ask the makers of “Super Mario Bros.”
“Men in Black: International,” Sony
Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth proved they have chemistry in “Thor: Ragnarok.” Can their on-screen charm make us forget about original stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones?
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Sony
“Tasteful” and “Quentin Tarantino” are words that rarely appear in the same sentence. However, it will fall to the “Pulp Fiction” director to somehow dramatize the events and characters surrounding the brutal Manson murders without seeming to be exploitative. Tarantino is no stranger to controversy, but will the inevitable headlines translate into ticket sales?
“Artemis Fowl,” Disney
Young adult books aren’t the sure-fire box office winners they once were. “Divergent” and “Mortal Engines” found that out the hard way. Now this big-budget adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s 2001 novel will try to shake off the curse and revive a genre that went out of favor with the conclusion of “The Hunger Games” and “Twilight.”
“Joker,” Warner Bros.
Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix team up to see if moviegoers want to watch the Clown Prince of Crime sans Batman. If the gambit works, they’ll be laughing all the way to the bank. If it falls flat, “Joker” will be another “Justice League”-style dud from struggling DC.