Films from The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) are already having a banner year, and it's just getting started. Black Panther once again led the domestic slate of movies last weekend, burying Tomb Raider in the process. The King of Wakanda held on to the domestic box office crown for the fifth successive weekend, an accomplishment not achieved since James Cameron's Avatar in early 2010. It's also only the fourth film to manage the feat in the last two decades, joining the ranks of The Sixth Sense and Titanic.
Black Panther's continued success at the box office appears to be providing a halo effect on Marvel's next big-screen adventure, the crossover movie Avengers: Infinity War, which gathers all the Marvel movie superheroes introduced to date, and is a culmination a decade in the making. This could bode well for the brand and for Disney in general.
The halo effect
The first evidence to support this theory is that advance ticket sales for Avengers: Infinity War has already broken the previous record -- which was held by Black Panther -- and needed only six hours to do so.
The second indicator is the results of a survey of over 1,000 Infinity War ticket buyers by movie ticketing app Fandango, which seems to predict great things for Marvel's next installment. 97% of respondents "can't wait" to see the heroes assemble, and 94% are excited to see the addition of newer franchises to the team, like Guardians of the Galaxy, which has thus far been an autonomous of the rest of "Earth's mightiest heroes." An impressive 87% of those surveyed had seen all of the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and 60% were more excited to see Avengers: Infinity War after seeing Black Panther.
Clawing its way up the chart
Black Panther continues to be something of a box office phenomenon and will continue to draw attention to Marvel characters. The movie has generated $1.182 billion in global ticket sales, moving up the all-time list to 14th place. It will undoubtedly pass Iron Man 3 for the 13th spot sometime this week, and in doing so will become the third-highest Marvel box office draw, behind only The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron, and become the biggest solo superhero movie ever. It will also be the seventh best performer ever for Disney and the seventh film to cross $600 million in domestic ticket sales.
Investors should be cheering
Disney investors have become accustomed to hearing about cord-cutting and falling subscribers at ESPN, and while it represents a sizable portion of the company's overall business, it isn't going away overnight. The fear has resulted in Disney stock being range-bound over the last three years, but that ignores the strength of its other business units.
Both the pending acquisition of Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ: FOX) (NASDAQ: FOXA) and the upcoming debut of multiple streaming services should reinforce Disney's results in the coming years and counter the effects of declining cable customers.
With its movies dominating the box office and impressive growth at the company's theme parks, Disney is well positioned to make the transition from a cable-centric to a streaming-centric world. Years from now, investors will likely look back and see this evolution as nothing more than a mere blip.
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Danny Vena owns shares of Walt Disney and has the following options: long January 2019 $85 calls on Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.