As 2016 comes to a close, Disney is sitting in uncharted territory. This is not because they just launched their first non-saga Star Wars film, but instead because of how well their movies as a whole have done this year. The purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012 has already begun to pay itself back, while Marvel Studios and their cinematic universe has continued to push forward. When Disney's animated features, their Pixar films, and any live-action film are factored into the equation, it is easy to see why they have had such a great financial year.
Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory, Zootopia, The Jungle Book, Moana, Doctor Strange, and the recently debuted Rogue One: A Star Wars Story have all been received in tremendous ways - which is why Disney has now set the record for the biggest global box office gross by a single studio in a year, with $7 billion.
Disney made the announcement official by releasing a press release that highlights the achievements that its many releases this year have made in helping the studio cross the $7 billion mark. With only two weeks left in the year, they still have time to further bolster this record, but once the calendar turns, the continued gross of Rogue One, Doctor Strange, and/or Moana will no longer count. Similarly, last year's Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens helped contribute to this success by earning an additional $736.6 million in 2016. Chairman of Walt Disney Studios Alan Horn said the following in response to their new record:
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. These films work because each one has not only something for everyone, but everything for someone. It’s our honor to be able to create these experiences for audiences, and we’re thankful to them for continuing to come out to the theater with us.”
The full press release highlights specific details as to how Disney was able to achieve this record. Disney is responsible for five of the top 10 earners globally, domestically, and internationally, which is evident as they had three separate films earn $1 billion this year - with Rogue One well on its way as well. Outside of the name recognition that comes with Star Wars and the Marvel movies, Disney had seven films with 90% or higher ratings on RottenTomatoes, further giving audiences reasoning to see the movies.
As incredible of a record this is, Disney may be in position to beat the record themselves in 2017. Rogue One will continue to earn them money in 2017, but they also have an impressive slate ready. Beauty and the Beast, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Cars 3, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, Coco, and Star Wars Episode VIII each should be financial hits in their own right. It will be interesting to see if Homecoming counts towards the potential new record next year as it is a Sony movie as well, but even without it Disney is in a good position.
Should next year's films follow in the footsteps of 2016 and deliver fun adventures that are worthy of repeat viewings, Disney could once again cross the $7 billion mark. Even if that does not happen, they will still be able to look back on this year as being the best financial year ever for any single studio.