Walt Disney Studios smashed box office records in 2016, thanks to such hits as Disney/Pixar's sequel Finding Dory, Walt Disney Animation's Zootopia, Marvel Studios' Captain America: Civil War and Disney's live-action The Jungle Book. Off the back of these successes, a certain level of arrogance would from the titanic studio might be forgiven. Yet, prior to the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Disney CEO Bob Iger made sure to stress that the spin-off was not expected to match the lofty commercial success of the previous year's Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (which grossed more than $2 billion worldwide).
This caution, it seems, was misplaced as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has now passed the $800 million mark, with the movie yet to release in China. Given that the enormous Chinese market remains untapped, the film could easily recoup its budget of $200 million by five times or more, should its current momentum remain unchanged.
This puts Rogue One on track to being Disney's fourth billion dollar film of 2016, after the company already broke records with returns of over $7 billion, prior to release of the first Star Wars spin-off. According to Coming Soon, Rogue One is currently the second-highest grossing domestic release of last year, and the seventh-highest grossing film worldwide. Coupled with this success is the impressive form of Disney's latest animated musical adventure, Moana, which topped the box office for three successive weekends last year, on its way to having earned $400 million worldwide so far.
These figures are more than just the cherry on top of the icing for Disney, they're a victory for diversity in film. Captain America: Civil War earned $1.13 billion worldwide and debuted the Wakandan superhero, Black Panther, who's set to appear in a standalone movie in 2017. Zootopia grossed $1 billion, and the story served as an allegory for racial intolerance and politically-entrenched racism. Finding Dory, which deals explicitly with mental health, made another billion dollars.
Moana and Rogue One are no exceptions either. Disney's newest Princess is a Pacific islander travelling with the demigod Maui, and the chief protagonists are both played by Polynesian actors (Auli'i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson, respectively). In Rogue One, the crew are comprised of various colors and creeds, with Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso being the only visibly white actor of the core heroic group. The enormous success of Disney's 2016 could signal a change in the way Hollywood movies approach casting and storytelling with a move towards greater inclusivity in general.
Source: Coming Soon
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018