In recent years, The Walt Disney Co. has used an innovative strategy, largely involving acquiring established and popular properties and making good use of its own century-old stable of characters and stories, to become a box office juggernaut. Disney owns Lucasfilm. It owns Marvel. It owns Pixar. It also owns its own legendary animation division, as well as a long, long list of well-known characters and other intellectual property.
Disney’s slate of films so far in 2016 have come from all sorts of places. Captain America: Civil War is from the Marvel stable. Finding Dory is a Pixar movie, Zootopia from the Disney Animation side, while The Jungle Book is an adaptation of a well-established Disney property. Those have combined for the best first half of a year, going by global box office, in history.
According to Deadline, Disney’s 2016 slate to date has earned $5.02 billion globally, including $3.05 billion from international box office, with domestic box office about to cross the $2 billion mark. Disney has become both the fastest film studio to cross $5 billion globally and $3 billion internationally, crossing those respective marks on July 11 and July 6, respectively.
Finding Dory’s $50 million weekend, leading to a total thus far of $643 million and the #1 spot of the year domestically, helped put Disney over the top, but the global haul was achieved thanks to the success of Zootopia and The Jungle Book. The studio is looking at more hits from various parts of its empire the rest of this year, including Pete’s Dragon (a remake of an earlier Disney film), Doctor Strange (Marvel), Moana (Disney Animation) and another Star Wars: Rogue One (Lucasfilm).
Clearly, Disney is firing on all cylinders at the box office these days. Especially impressive? The top domestic film of all time, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, was also released by Disney and earned much of its money in 2016, but does not count towards the total as it was a late 2015 release.
Can Disney keep up this hot streak forever? Probably not; it doesn't appear any studio ever has. But its strategy is clearly working now, to the tune of billions of dollars, and is likely to keep working for at least a couple more years.
Pete’s Dragon comes out August 12, 2016. Doctor Strange reaches theaters November 4, 2016. Moana will come out November 23, 2016 and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will arrive in theaters December 16, 2016.