Captain Marvel Just Became Disney's Next Billion-Dollar Franchise

It seems Disney (NYSE: DIS) has done it again. Captain Marvel -- the first female superhero to headline a Marvel film -- topped more than $1 billion in box office last week, the latest in a growing list of Disney movies to achieve this distinction.

This is good news for the House of Mouse, as The Avengers story arc -- which began with the debut of Iron Man in 2008 -- is coming to an end with the release of Avengers: Endgame later this month. Some of the major headliners over the past 10-plus years -- Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor -- may not be returning, as newer Marvel characters take center stage. The success of newer entries like Captain Marvel bodes well for Marvel's, and Disney's, box office domination.

The first 21 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been wildly successful, earning more than $18 billion in ticket sales. Captain Marvel becomes the seventh entry from the Marvel canon to top $1 billion in box office.

A long and growing list

There are currently only 38 films that have crossed the $1 billion box office threshold, and 21 of those are Disney properties. Even more impressive is that each of the company's major film studios -- Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney, and the recently acquired 20th Century Fox -- are each represented on the list, as are both Disney's live-action remakes and animated offerings.

This broad and diverse list crosses studios, age demographics, and movie genres, showing the depth of Disney's cinematic bench, as well as its future prospects.

Even more important than the box office tally is the contribution these hit films make to Disney's other operating segments. You'll be sure to see Captain Marvel-themed rides and attractions at the company's theme parks, consumer products like lunch boxes, action figures, and Halloween costumes, and the movie will undoubtedly make an appearance on Disney's soon-to-be-launched streaming service, Disney+. Each of the company's operating segments tend to benefit from Disney's successful blockbusters.

A welcome boost

After several years of stock price stagnation, Disney has gradually gained steam in recent months. Excitement about the recently completed acquisition of certain film and television assets from Twenty-First Century Fox, and continued strength at the company's parks and resorts and studio entertainment businesses, has helped to calm fears about subscriber declines at Disney's cable networks.

The growing roster of successful films from Marvel will continue to pay dividends as Disney enters the next phase of its evolution.

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Danny Vena owns shares of Walt Disney and has the following options: long January 2021 $85 calls on Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.