Universal Pictures has made history, becoming the first studio to gross $5.53 billion in a single year.
What’s particularly impressive about the studio’s feat is that it has shattered records less than eight months into the calendar year, and still has several major movies left to release, including rap drama “Straight Outta Compton,” adventure film “Everest” and Gothic thriller “Crimson Peak.” It also managed to pull off the big grosses without a major superhero franchise in its arsenal.
The box office total pushes Universal past the $5.5 billion that Fox made last year. Universal got there thanks to the billion dollar-plus-grossing sequels “Jurassic World” and “Furious 7,” the massive success of “Despicable Me” spinoff “Minions,” the erotic thriller “Fifty Shades of Grey” and the comedy “Pitch Perfect 2.”
Not everything worked, of course. “Ted 2” failed to live up to its predecessor, likely ending the bong rips for the pot-smoking teddy bear. The studio also distributed costly flops like “Blackhat” and “Seventh Son,” but its partner Legendary Entertainment put up the funding for those films.
Some release date shifting is partly responsible for the embarrassment of riches. “Furious 7” was originally slated to come out in 2014, but the death of star Paul Walker led to reshoots and meant that the film had to be pushed back a year. Likewise, “Fifty Shades of Grey” was originally intended to debut in August 2014, until Universal decided the S&M drama would play best as a naughty Valentine’s Day treat.
To date, Universal has grossed $3.59 billion internationally and $1.94 billion domestically, and it is poised to cross $2 billion at the North American box office later this month. Universal has become the fastest studio to hit $1 billion at the domestic box office, as well as $3 billion at the international box office.