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Thanks to the strikes in 2023, several blockbuster movies were pushed back for 2024 releases. That sets up a long list of sequels, prequels, and reboots of popular franchises that will be hitting theaters this upcoming year, all competing to have the highest opening weekend.
But which 2024 blockbuster will have the highest opening weekend? We look at the 10 movies listed with odds from BetOnline, a top-rated sportsbook.
For reference, here is the highest opening weekend for each year since 2015:
- 2023: Barbie ($162 million)
- 2022: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ($187 million)
- 2021: Spider-Man: No Way Home ($260 million)
- 2020: Bad Boys for Life ($62.5 million – COVID-19 year)
- 2019: Avengers: Endgame ($357 million)
- 2018: Avengers: Infinity War ($257 million)
- 2017: Star Wars: The Last Jedi ($220 million)
- 2016: Captain America: Civil War ($179 million)
- 2015: Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($247 million)
Take away the COVID year in 2020, and this is almost a clean sweep for Star Wars and Marvel except for this year with the success of Barbie, which was wisely marketed as an event weekend with the release of Oppenheimer.
Dune: Part 2 (+2000)
There is no accounting for taste, but Dune: Part 2 might very well be the best film out of the list we are about to examine. But best film and highest-grossing film are rarely in line with each other.
This sequel to 2021’s Dune was supposed to release in the fall of 2023 before the strikes pushed it back to March, which is generally not the best time for huge box-office numbers.
Dune only grossed $41 million in its opening weekend in October 2021, but that number is likely misleading when projecting what the sequel will do. First, people were still a little anxious about going to the theater during the pandemic in 2021. Second, the movie was simultaneously released on streaming through HBO Max, so people were not in a need to go see it at the show if they didn’t want to.
The sequel will likely exceed the first part’s opening weekend, but if you look at the typical numbers for a No. 1 box-office weekend for the year, it is well above expectations for Dune.
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 2 (+2000)
Tom Cruise is box-office royalty, but I’m not sure how this title has made its way onto the list for 2024 odds when the release date has been set to May 23, 2025.
That alone is reason enough to not bet on this, but the other reason is that Part 1 of this latest Mission: Impossible sequel was a dud at the show with only $54 million on its opening weekend.
Cruise complained that Oppenheimer and Barbie were stealing the thunder, and the release date was bad timing. That may be the case, but even Creed III made more money on its opening weekend with $58 million.
Sonic 3 (+1600)
— Sonic the Hedgehog (@SonicMovie) November 29, 2023
Movies based on video games have historically been terrible, but I must say the first two Sonic movies and the 2023 animated Super Mario Brothers movie were better than they had any right to be.
Sonic 3 expects to release December 20, 2024, so it will be right in time for Christmas, which is a decent time of year to release a family-oriented movie.
Sonic the Hedgehog set a record for highest opening weekend for a video game movie when it made $58 million. The sequel broke that record in 2022 with $72 million, but even with holiday inflation, it does not look likely that this one will get above that $160 million mark like every other top weekend since 2015 has hit (COVID year aside).
Kung Fu Panda 4 (+1600)
Hard to believe but it has been 16 years since the original Kung Fu Panda released in 2008. The Jack Black-voiced animated franchise had 2 sequels, but the last one was released way back in 2016.
It made $41 million, which was a record for a January animated release at the time in 2016. However, Kung Fu Panda 3 went on to become the franchise’s lowest-grossing film, and it has been nearly a decade since its release.
Even if fans of the original have their own kids now and would like to see it, this is unlikely to top all the other blockbusters in 2024.
Madame Web (+1400)
A new entry into the MCU, Madame Web is part of the Spider-Man universe and stars Dakota Johnson in the title role. The film has already been delayed a few times but is expected to finally release on February 14, 2024 (Valentine’s Day).
New entries into the MCU have done well at the box office before, including Black Panther and Doctor Strange. But if you notice from the list in the introduction, it was always a sequel or big Avengers movie that topped the box office.
Madame Web is not a well-known character like some of the other MCU stars, and the release date in February is not as good as a summer blockbuster release. It could very well do better than The Marvels, the lowest-grossing MCU film yet, but do not expect it to finish No. 1 in 2024.
This prequel to The Lion King could be a dark horse, though it probably stood a better chance if it met its initial release date of July 5 instead of getting pushed back to December 20. But that is at least Christmas week, and this figures to be the No. 1 choice for families.
The movie will be “animated live-action” in the way that the 2019 remake of The Lion King was. That movie really paled in comparison to the original 1994 animated classic, but it still made huge money with $191 million on opening weekend.
It would have been the No. 1 blockbuster of 2019 had it not been for the event that was Avengers: Endgame, and it’s not like Marvel has anything that big planned for 2024, not to mention the way people are finally getting sick of the MCU.
This is definitely one to consider and the best choice yet.
Joker 2 (+800)
The first Joker in 2019 definitely made some headway with moviegoers at the box office. It set a record for an October release with $96 million on its opening weekend. It eventually became the first R-rated movie to make over $1 billion.
It is not surprising to see Joaquin Phoenix return for a sequel, and it should cross the $100 million mark on opening weekend thanks to the addition of Lady Gaga to the cast as the iconic Harley Quinn, Joker’s psychotic girlfriend.
But with another October release, a likely R rating, and the prospects of it being a musical this time, there may be a more limited audience that goes to see this than some of the other blockbusters coming out.
Inside Out 2 (+500)
Pixar is usually reliable for the box office, and Inside Out was one of its better animated features in the last decade. But it also came out in 2015, so the core audience interested in a sequel in 2024 may not quite be there.
Inside Out made $90 million on its opening weekend and likely would have been No. 1 had it not been competing with Jurassic World.
Inside Out 2 is scheduled for release on June 14, 2024, which should be good timing to make big money with the kids getting out of school for the summer. Its competition appears to be a new Bad Boys sequel, but that is more for the R-rated crowd.
Despicable Me 4 (+400)
Coming in with the 2nd-highest odds is the latest entry in the Despicable Me franchise, which has already spawned several sequels and movies involving the Minions too.
Despicable Me 3 came out in 2017, and while it was poorly received by critics, it still went on to become the 4th-highest grossing animated film of all time. It made over $70 million in its opening weekend.
But what could really help Despicable Me 4 is the release date, which is perfectly set to July 3, 2024. That is a Wednesday and a day before the Fourth of July holiday, a popular time of year for people to see a film in an air-conditioned theater.
As of right now, it does not look like it will have much competition that week either with another A Quiet Place film coming out the week before. People may groan at the idea of another Despicable Me movie, but it will be viewed as a safe pick for families to see on a holiday weekend.
Deadpool 3 (+200)
The odds-on favorite for the highest grossing weekend in 2024 belongs to Deadpool 3, the anticipated sequel to Ryan Reynolds’ best role.
When Deadpool came out in 2016, it pulled off the rare feat of succeeding as an R-rated comic book movie released in the slow month of February. It made $132 million in its opening weekend, breaking a slew of records for R-rated and February releases.
Deadpool 2 was released in May 2018 and fared well with $125 million on opening weekend. It was not as well received critically as the first one, but it still grossed well at the box office.
The release date for Deadpool 3 should be helpful as it is scheduled to come out July 26, 2024. The only competition that month is Despicable Me 4 (July 3) and Twisters (July 19), a sequel to the 1996 film.
Conclusion: Which to Pick?
If you could only pick one of these movies to have the biggest opening weekend in 2024, I would go with Deadpool 3. It has an established fanbase, and many of the teens who enjoyed the last couple are old enough now to buy their own ticket without an adult present. The release date is right around the time Barbie and Oppenheimer came out this year, and with no such competition in sight for it.
A strong hedge would be on Despicable Me 4 to edge out Inside Out 2 for the lead in family movies released in the summer, and we’ll note the July 3rd release date as crucial for Despicable Me 4.
As for a dark horse, think Mufasa at +800 as you cannot underestimate how big The Lion King, which has spawned multiple sequels and musicals over the decades, is even to this day.
Pick: Biggest Opening Weekend in 2024 – Deadpool 3 (+200) at BetOnline