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Disney Scores Biggest Year Ever at Box Office, Poised to Set New Industry Record

Zootopia,” “Captain America: Civil War,” and “Finding Dory” have pushed Walt Disney Studios to its biggest year ever at the global box office with two months left to go on the calendar.

The Hollywood giant has earned $5.85 billion in global ticket sales through Nov. 1, racing past its previous record of $5.84 billion, which Disney set in 2015. That figure should climb in the weeks ahead. Disney still has several high-profile releases this year, among them “Doctor Strange,” which hits U.S. theaters on Friday, the family film “Moana,” and “Star Wars: Rogue One.” Earlier this year, Disney became the fastest studio to hit $2 billion domestically, $3 billion internationally, and $5 billion globally.

Disney has yet to set a new industry record for annual box office revenues. That still belongs to Universal, which racked up $6.89 billion in 2015 thanks to blockbusters such as “Furious 7” and “Jurassic World.” Still, Disney is on track to surpass that mark, given the likely windfall that a new “Star Wars” adventure, Marvel movie, and animated offering will enjoy. Those films should close the $1 billion gap that exists between Disney’s current theatrical revenues and the record established by Universal.

Not everything Disney touched turned to gold this year. The studio had a costly flop with “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” which earned $299.3 million on a budget of $170 million, and “The Finest Hours” and “The BFG” were stillborn at the multiplexes, losing tens of millions of dollars in the process.

“For the second year in a row, the Walt Disney Studios has reached a new high at the box office thanks to an absolutely stellar collection of releases from Disney, Disney Animation, Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm,” said Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn in a statement. “This success is a testament to the refined talent and innovative work the entire studio team puts into making these world-class cinematic experiences.”

Indeed, the results are a testament to the success of several expensive bets placed by Disney chief Bob Iger. Since taking the reins in 2005, Iger has plunked down $7.4 billion to buy Pixar, $4 billion for LucasFilm, and $4 billion for Marvel. Those acquisitions have given the studio access to the premiere animation creator, as well as the gallery of Marvel and “Star Wars” characters, making them the envy of the other major studios.

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