Disney has shattered industry records, setting a new benchmark for annual box office revenues to become the first studio to hit $7 billion globally. All it took was a “Star Wars” spinoff, a trio of animated smashes, and a pair of Marvel films. That list of blockbuster heavy hitters is a sign of just how formidable a competitor Disney has become for other major studios.
The news comes on the heels of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s” release last weekend. The space opera prequel pulled in nearly $300 million globally, and is expected to dominate ticket sales over the winter holidays. Universal set the previous record, amassing $6.89 billion in 2015 thanks to blockbusters such as “Furious 7,” “Minions,” and “Jurassic World.”
Earlier this year, Disney became the fastest studio to hit $2 billion domestically, $3 billion internationally, and $5 billion globally.
Disney owes its success to more than just a return to a galaxy far, far away. Three of the studio’s films (“Finding Dory,” “Captain America: Civil War,” and “Zootopia”) cracked $1 billion at the global box office, and “Jungle Book” came close, earning $966.6 million. It also scored with “Moana” and “Doctor Strange.” Not everything Disney produced met with popular approval. “The BFG” and “Alice Through the Looking Glass” both failed to spark much enthusiasm among audiences and rank among the year’s biggest flops.
“This historic achievement is possible because all of our film studios are bringing their absolute best to the table, telling great stories of all kinds that resonate with audiences across borders, gender, and generations,” said Alan Horn, chairman of the Walt Disney Studios, in a statement. “These films work because each one has not only something for everyone, but everything for someone.”
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Under Disney chief Bob Iger’s leadership, the company has grown acquisitive. The company has shelled out more than $15 billion to buy Marvel, Pixar, and Lucasfilm. That spending is widely considered to have been worth it. It’s granted Disney the rights to iconic characters such as Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Buzz Lightyear, Captain America, Iron Man, and the Incredibles.
Among its various accomplishments, Disney is responsible for five of the top 10 films of the year globally, domestically, and internationally. The four highest-grossing releases are all Disney films.