Top 19 Media Trends of 2019: Disney’s Box Office Dominance

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Jesse Waters/Walt Disney Studios

The domestic box office market share over the last 12 years provides a sobering reminder of how important franchises are to studio performance, especially for Disney.

Although the 2019 box office looks to be falling short of the previous year’s total, Disney is ending the decade on the highest possible note, becoming the first studio ever to surpass $10 billion globally. This achievement isn’t surprising given Disney’s acquisition of Marvel Studios at the end of 2009 and Lucasfilm three years later.

Back then, Disney was averaging 12.7% of the domestic market from 2008-2012. Fast-forward to 2019, and Disney has amassed nearly $3.3 billion this year in the U.S. and Canada. Combined with $500 million from recent acquisition 20th Century Fox, Disney currently possesses 36.7% of the domestic market (as of Dec. 10, per Box Office Mojo).

This success is fueled by the final and biggest “Avengers” film, “Avengers: Endgame,” multiple live-action remakes (“The Lion King”, “Aladdin”), and two big animated sequels (“Toy Story 4”, “Frozen 2”). That doesn’t include the finale of its current “Star Wars” cycle, the grosses of which should also give the studio a head start into 2020.

Fox, which was rapidly losing share before Disney acquired the studio, will provide ample gross for Disney in 2021, when the first of four “Avatar” sequels kicks off. The first “Avatar” was highly responsible for driving Fox’s strength in the 2009-2010 market.

Meanwhile, franchise dependence continues with Sony Pictures as it holds onto its sliver of Marvel for dear life through its “Spider-Man” license. Now in its third incarnation, the Marvel hero is more profitable than ever for the studio; “Spider-Man: Far From Home” became Sony’s highest-grossing film ever, accounting for over a third of its domestic share in 2019.

Paramount’s share of the market declined upon the expiration of its Marvel license before 2012’s “The Avengers” released through Disney.

This is one of a series, 19 Trends That Defined the Media Business in 2019.