2024 Box Office Showdown

The box office rebounded in 2022 after two troubled years due to the pandemic – and then ran headlong into more trouble in 2023, as many top franchises stumbled out of the gate and superheroes proved to not be invulnerable after all. DC saw four out of four movies bomb, Marvel proved that it wasn’t unbeatable at the box office, and the 2023 box office saw three unlikely champs – an Italian plumber, a feminist doll, and a 1940s nuclear physicist! So what awaits for 2024? More turmoil.

The reason this article is coming out before the start of March is because, well, the 2024 box office race hasn’t really started yet! The leading box office title right now is the Mean Girls musical, which hasn’t topped 100M at the box office. The most notable release of the year, Madame Web, has become a massive embarrassment for Sony and another symbol of what people are calling the decline of the superhero movie market. And what’s more, due to the recent strikes, the box office slate is far from settled. Several top films, like Pixar’s Elio and the John Wick spinoff Ballerina, have decamped from the year while we saw one movie air-drop into the end of the year recently and another make a game-changing title reveal.

Even with the truncated release schedule, this year does have some heavy hitters – and some surprising misses. I’m expecting this year to continue culling franchises that have missed their moment. I’m not really seeing a sequel to Twister with a whole new cast making an impact, and the same goes for the latest Alien film. DC is taking the year off and Marvel only has one heavy hitter – and a completely insane Russell Crowe aside, I am not seeing Kraven breaking the Morbius/Madame Web pattern.

So what will top the 2024 box office? Will we have another shocking upset like Top Gun: Maverick, or will Disney reclaim its crown for the first time since 2021? Read on for my predictions!

25. Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

Ghostbusters: Afterlife was a modest revival for the franchise complete with a Stranger Things-inspired plot and the return of the original Ghostbusters (including some dodgy CGI). Can this one duplicate that success? It has the original crew back plus some surprise returns (like villain Walter Peck) but the plot featuring a mass-casualty frost wave in New York looks overly grim and I think this will be another victim of the decline in box office for revived franchises.

24. Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

The last Godzilla vs. Kong movie was a welcome reprieve from Covid when it came out in 2021, and had enough headliner monsters to make it a strong box office draw. Watching these two beasties face off again will be fun, but the biggest problem this movie has is a villain one – it seems to be about a civil war in Hollow Earth as Kong goes up against another massive ape with an attitude problem. This will do fine, but I think it’s due a drop-off now that the franchise has burned through its big guns.

23. Kung Fu Panda 4

Has anyone watched the awesome Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight on Netflix? It expanded the franchise in some fascinating ways. This long-delayed sequel seems to play on some of the same themes, but without any of the characters from there. It’s dropped a lot of characters from the original franchise (likely due to budget issues), but it has one big advantage going for it – this is the first family movie to come out in AGES, and that should help it overcome any issues with the length of time between installments.

22. Bad Boys 4

I want to comment on this movie, but I’m afraid I’ll get slapped! Of course, the Will Smith factor is huge here, but I think it’ll do fine despite that as the movie’s core audience has largely gotten over that scandal and many feel Smith was treated unfairly. The last movie was an unlikely year’s box office champ in 2020, but I don’t think this one is likely to equal the surprisingly strong box office there, given its competitive summer release date. It’ll do fine, but won’t be a breakout.

21. Transformers One

One of the biggest wild cards of the year, we’ve seen nothing of this Transformers animated origin story – but it has an amazing all-star cast including two Avengers! The franchise has seen some rough box office lately, but unique animated adaptations have been having a moment. I think this can bring the Robots in Disguise back to their glory days – after all, the last animated Transformers movie is considered the high mark for the franchise.

20. Wolfs

Another wild card, this non-franchise heist thriller has two big things going for it. One, it’s directed by Jon Watts of Spider-Man fame, and it features two of the biggest stars from the Ocean’s 11 franchise – George Clooney and Brad Pitt. There seems to be a pattern of “Dad movies” overperforming once in a while, sometimes massively, and I think this one could be a great bit of counterprogramming when it releases in September.

19. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

Matt Reeves revitalized this old-school franchise with a trilogy of wildly acclaimed films in the late 2010s, but Reeves is off to Gotham City now and his lead Caesar is gone as well. The trailer for this looks solid, continuing the evolution of this world of ape warriors, but director Wes Ball doesn’t have Reeves’ pedigree. I think the buzz of the franchise will keep this strong for a while, but it’ll have to deliver in order to kick-start the franchise again.

18. IF

This oddball fantasy adventure about a cynical man and a young girl who attempt to help a collection of forgotten imaginary friends got an enormous amount of buzz when it debuted, and I put that down to one thing – John Krasinski, whose past franchise was a massive hit (more on that in a little bit). The trailer was just the right kind of offbeat and creative, and I think it could be a big crossover hit for families.

17. Beetlejuice Beetlejuice

Another long, long awaited sequel, we haven’t seen anything of this Tim Burton horror-comedy that brings back Michael Keaton’s twisted spirit. But I think the reason this is guaranteed to be a pretty solid hit has more to do with his young co-star – Jenna Ortega, whose rising star turned into a comet with her role on Netflix’s Wednesday.

16. Untitled Jordan Peele Christmas Film

We know nothing about this one! Not even the name! But it’s really hard to argue with the stunning level of success that Peele has had since he dropped on the scene as a horror director. Three movies, three massive hits, and this one is landing in the middle of one of the busiest possible moviegoing seasons. He’ll go four for four.

15. Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Hooooooo boy. I haven’t seen a trailer get this kind of response in a very long time. George Miller, who has largely shepherded this franchise since day one, is back for his first prequel and the stunts look as incredible as ever. Anna Taylor Joy is an inspired choice to replace Charlize Theron, and the cast is all new besides that. Will no Mad Max himself hurt this? I don’t think so, but I do think the R-rating likely means this has a cap at the box office.

14. The Fall Guy

We’ve seen for a while that the audience responds well to original crowd-pleasers lately, and the trailer for this raucous Hollywood action-comedy (based on a cult-favorite 1980s show starring Lee Majors, but not playing up that connection in the trailers) made it look like a throwback to the 1990s in the best way. The story of a stuntman who has to track down a missing actor looks hilarious, and the director of Bullet Train will likely deliver great action scenes. It should be a great summer kick-off in the absence of a Marvel movie in that spot.

13. Mufasa: The Lion King

Disney has had a rough year, and there are a few movies that I think will turn this around. I do not expect this to be one of them. This is basically the definition of “Why did they make this” – a CGI prequel focusing on Simba’s dad’s secret origin story and his rivalry with Scar. Director Barry Jenkins has quite the resume, but “marketable” is not one of the things on it. Disney is angling on this being their big winter release, but I expect it to get overshadowed quite a bit.

12. Lord of the Rings: War of the Rohirrim

Another massive, massive wild card this year, we have seen nothing of this huge-scale animated movie based on JRR Tolkien’s works. But despite that, all six previous movies in the franchise were massive hits despite some grumbling over the pace of The Hobbit trilogy. A prequel to the original series, it’s likely to have magnificent visuals – but everything else is up in the air, as we don’t know much about the characters.

11. A Quiet Place: Day One

I’ve got this easily taking the title of the top horror movie of the year, despite the fact that it doesn’t feature the original characters. In fact, I think it could be the biggest hit of the franchise – and that’s almost entirely due to one man, Joseph Quinn. The Stranger Things star and future Johnny Storm is one of the biggest superstars among young fans right now, and watching him on the big screen in a starring role for the first time will be a big draw.

10. Moana 2

Oh, wow, where to begin with this – Disney threw the box office race for a loop when they announced this movie out of nowhere a few weeks back. But there is a caveat – this reportedly began life as a TV series sequel and was changed into a movie when Disney pivoted away from Disney Plus. This has some people worried that it could be a “cheapquel” a la early 2000s releases, but I seriously doubt it. Bob Iger doesn’t do shovelware, and almost all the original cast is returning so far. I think this one will be Disney proper’s first big animated hit in a while – but not their biggest of the year.

9. Venom 3

The one bright spot in Sony’s never-ending quest to prove they don’t need Marvel Studios, this delightfully stupid franchise has coasted on the bonkers performance of Tom Hardy and his homicidal goo buddy through two mediocre movies, and I don’t think it’ll stop now. Chiwetel Ejiofor is expected to play the villain, who could be Knull the King in Black, so the odds are we’ll get more over-the-top action and ridiculous comedy.

8. The Garfield Movie

The franchise that tricked Bill Murray into a two-film deal is back! Those CGI-live action hybrid films were very poorly regarded, but this fully animated version looks like classic kids’ entertainment. The plot looks…routine, but that won’t stop another megahit this year. I’m mostly intrigued by the fact that this features Samuel L. Jackson playing Garfield’s deadbeat dad in what looks like an amusing road trip adventure.

7. Sonic the Hedgehog 3

This is a great example of a franchise that has exceeded expectations at every turn. Before the pandemic, it was one of the last big hit movies. Then, it was the first real big hit family film of the new era in 2022. This installment skips the early-year slot and instead slots itself in as the big franchise film of the holiday season – and I think that and the presence of fan-favorite antihero Shadow the Hedgehog will take our speedy blue friend to 300M faster-faster-f-f-f-faster.

6. Wicked: Part One

Big-scale broadway epic musicals can be massive hits at the box office, but it’s been a while since we had one really break out. That could easily change with this first installment of the massive reinvention of The Wizard of Oz. The little we’ve seen of it looks like a lush fantasy epic, the songs are iconic, and the presence of Broadway star Cynthia Erivo and superstar pop idol Ariana Grande will only help. Plus, Jeff Goldblum!

5. Dune: Part Two

And now, the reason why I made sure to get this article out before the start of March. We’ve been STARVED at the box office for months, and unto us like an oasis in the desert comes the second part of Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic. The first part was a hit despite being a dual theaters-HBO Max release, and the reviews and trailers for this one have been phenomenal. I think this will explode out of the gate and finally kick off the 2024 box office season after a depressing drought.

4. Gladiator 2

The most unexpected sequel of the year, this Ancient Rome epic not only sees Ridley Scott return to the world of his Oscar-winning epic, but brings with him a spectacular cast including two members of the Fantastic Four and Denzel Freaking Washington. An original story of the son of Lucilla searching for the truth about Maximus and Commodus, it stars Paul Mescal in the lead role and looks to be a serious contender to follow in the footsteps of surprise hits like Oppenheimer and Top Gun: Maverick.

3. Inside Out 2

Pixar has…struggled since the pandemic, to put it lightly, releasing three movies straight to Disney Plus and two to mixed box office reception. That ends here in a big way as they drop a sequel to one of their most beloved recent movies. Adding several new emotions as Riley hits puberty, this movie looks every bit as chaotic and hilarious as the first installment, but only time will tell if it has the same emotional punch. I think audiences will be out in waves to find out.

2. Despicable Me 4

I’ll be honest, this does NOT look good to me. It’s the exact same movie, only with Will Ferrell as a new villain and a grumpy baby. Will that matter? Not at all. Illumination is the hottest brand in animation right now, seeing Minions 2 become the first animated hit of the post-pandemic era and The Super Mario Bros. nearly taking over as the top movie of all time. Plus, this has a minion get stuck in a vending machine. It’ll be huge whether we like it or not.

1. Deadpool and Wolverine

A lot of years, there are multiple contenders for which movie will win and good arguments for all of them. Not this year. With most other movies being delayed due to the strike, all eyes are on this Marvel/Fox fusion featuring Ryan Reynolds’ merc with a mouth in the first Deadpool movie to come out of the MCU. That was enough of a draw – and then word came out that Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine would be revisiting his role for one last go in what’s likely to be a multiverse-spanning, cameo-filled chaos ball of a movie. I don’t think the R rating will hurt this at all, and it’s likely to clear the rest of the field by leaps and bounds.

What do you think will take the 2024 box office crown? Feel free to comment, disagree, or argue below!

3 thoughts on “2024 Box Office Showdown

  1. Patrick Munsey says:

    Like this. However, “The Fall Guy” is not an original concept. It is a loose adaptation of a 1980s television property starring Lee Majors and Heather Locklear. It’s a good bet at least one of them will get the obligatory cameo at some point in the film. Still, I would like to see it.

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