Not every film released under the Disney banner in 2016 has been a hit (see: Alice Through the Looking Glass, The BFG), but the Mouse House has still had one of the strongest years at the box office in history. This past May, they set a new record for fastest to $1 billion at the domestic box office, and that was just one day into Captain America: Civil War's dominant run and a month prior to Finding Dory becoming the highest-grossing movie of the year in the U.S. Early on, the studio rode on the success of titles like Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Zootopia, and The Jungle Book.
In 2015, Universal made several headlines for their impressive crop of blockbusters that included Furious 7, Jurassic World, and Minions. They ended the year with a whopping $2.4 billion domestically, which accounted for 21.3 percent of the total movie marketshare in America. Towards the end of August 2016, Disney is on pace to blow those figures out of the water and set new all-time highs for the film industry.
According to The Wrap, as of August 21, 2016, Disney films have grossed a collective $2.1 billion in North America, which is good for 26.9 percent of the marketshare. Star Wars 7 made $285 million of its $937 million since the calendar turned to January, and the numbers posted by Zootopia ($341.2 million), The Jungle Book ($363.2 million), Civil War ($407.7 million), and Finding Dory ($478.7 million) have given Disney executives plenty of reasons to smile. Given that the studio owns Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm (three of the premier names in entertainment), it shouldn't come as any surprise they've been this successful.
The money should keep rolling in for Disney as we make our way through the fall and winter. Marvel Studios will continue their Phase 3 when Doctor Strange premieres on November 4, 2016, and Disney Animation's Moana (starring box office gold Dwayne Johnson) opens November 23, 2016. And of course, audiences will return once more to the galaxy far, far away with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which entered the year as the most anticipated film. Depending on how things shake out, there's a good chance the top five movies of the year domestically are all Disney projects. As it stands now, they've released three of the top five.
As unprecedented as these dollar amounts are, 2017 could be even bigger for Disney. On the docket for that year they have MCU installments Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Thor: Ragnarok (they do not receive a cut from the Spider-Man: Homecoming proceeds as part of their deal with Sony), two Pixar films (the highly-marketable Cars 3 and original work Coco), another live-action fairy tale remake (Beauty and the Beast), and the hotly awaited Star Wars: Episode VIII. Additionally, Disney will release the sequel Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales in May 2017, which should do decent business, even if franchise fatigue is starting to settle in with that property.
Even the rosiest optimists may not have been able to predict these results for Disney when they made their various acquisitions of some of the biggest players in Hollywood tentpoles. However, there's no denying that all these investments paid off in spades and the Mouse House should continue to reap the benefits for years to come. For many people, they have set the blockbuster gold standard and consistently deliver quality products. In the day and age of being selective at the movies, that definitely counts for something.
Disney will release Doctor Strange on November 4, 2016; Moana November 23, 2016; and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story December 16, 2016 to add to their astronomical box office totals.
Source: The Wrap