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‘Captain Marvel’ Could Help Make 2019 the Biggest Box Office Year Ever

It’s been less than 24 hours since Captain Marvel made a record-smashing $455 million worldwide. But the film is already being credited for helping a sluggish box office experience a super-heroic turnaround.

At a conference on Monday, Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi said this year’s movie-ticket haul in the U.S. could exceed $12 billion, which would be enough to top last year’s all-time high of $11.85 billion. “We think that the year we’re experiencing now will be at that level, and potentially even better,” Zoradi told an audience at the 2019 Deutsche Bank Media, Internet and Telecom conference, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “I’m hopeful we’ll see a 12 in front of it.”

That’s a bold prediction given that January and February were largely disappointing, with attendance rates down, several films under-performing—including sequels to such hits The Lego Movie and Happy Death Day—and only a handful of movies breaking the $100 million mark.

But Zoradi notes that last February’s Black Panther, which earned more than a billion dollars worldwide, gave 2018 an inflated first quarter. And he points to the success of Captain Marvel as evidence that this year could still enjoy a major rebound. The Brie Larson-led film, which was harangued by online trolls upon release, nonetheless wound up living up to box office estimates, “[with] an extra 20% on top of it,” he noted.

Another key reason for the optimistic forecast: Disney (DIS). The company will release two of this year’s biggest sequelsAvengers: Endgame and Star Wars: Episode IX—as well as forthcoming remakes of The Lion King, Aladdin, and Dumbo. Other high-profile possibilities for the year include It: Chapter Two; a new entry in the lucrative John Wick story; and writer-director Jordan Peele’s Us, which was already heading toward a big opening weekend before last week’s South By Southwest Festival premiere yielded the movie ecstatic reviews.