In 2009, Disney paid $4 billion to acquire Marvel. Less than 10 years later, in 2018, Marvel movies accounted for more than half of Disney’s $7.3 billion box office haul.
I’d say that was a good investment, wouldn’t you?
In Disney’s final box office tally of 2018, just three movies accounted for slightly more than $4 billion in global ticket sales. Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther account for the lion’s share with $2.05 billion for the former and $1.35 billion for the latter. Ant-Man‘s global box office of $623 million brought in the rest.
(And in case you’re curious: Black Panther had the box office edge over Infinity War in the U.S., $700 million to $679 million.)
Pixar delivered the other big piece of Disney’s year. Incredibles 2 made $1.24 billion worldwide, with $609 million of that coming from U.S. audiences. Nothing else in the studio’s slate even came close to breaking $1 billion, though Ralph Breaks the Internet and Mary Poppins Returns are notably still in release with more overseas openings still to come.
There were some notable misses in 2018. The much-hyped, Ava Duvernay-helmed adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time was Disney’s lowest performer of the year, with just $133 million earned globally. And Solo: A Star Wars Story marked a low point for the series; its global box office of $394 million is lower than that of every other non-animated Star Wars release to date.
(Star Wars: The Clone Wars is still the reigning champ of poorly received Star Wars movies at the box office. The animated movie, which was really just a three-episode arc of the TV series that had been stitched together, made just $68.3 million in 2008.)
The missed opportunities with Star Wars and Wrinkle were seemingly just enough to make 2018 the runner-up in Disney’s all-time best box office years. (Not to suggest that $7.3 billion in one year is in any way a bad thing.)
It’s hard to top 2016, or really overstate the importance of Star Wars to Disney’s business (Solo‘s misstep notwithstanding). That earlier year was bookended by the Dec. 2015 release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Dec. 2016 release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
The rest of 2016’s total — a whopping $7.6 billion — came from a mix of titles: key Marvel releases (Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange) and popular animated features like Moana, Zootopia, the live-action-ish The Jungle Book, and, of course, Finding Dory.
The 2019 calendar is likely to hit similar heights, or even exceed them. In addition to Captain Marvel, out in March, the MCU as a whole is headed for a watershed moment just a month later, in April’s story arc-capping Avengers: Endgame. It’s a similar situation with Star Wars: when Episode IX hits theaters in December, it’ll be finishing off a journey that George Lucas started, sans Disney, all the way back in 1977.
Then, in addition to those, we’ll be getting three freshened up remakes of Disney classics: Dumbo in March, Aladdin in May, and The Lion King in July. Those will also be joined by a pair of major sequels: Frozen 2 and Toy Story 4.
Disney likes to brag that it’s the only studio in Hollywood history to have made more than $7 billion at the box office in one year. Could 2019’s lineup have the juice to push into $8 billion territory?
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