The Walt Disney Company released only 13 feature films in 2019 and that “baker’s dozen” was good enough to smash practically every box office record raking in nearly $11 billion in global ticket sales.
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Four other studios released more movies but none could approach Disney’s take. The Burbank-based studio broke its own 2016 record of $7 billion. Disney earned $3.76 billion domestically – also an all-time record -- and $7.35 billion abroad for a total of $11.12 billion. And these figures don’t even count the tickets sold by 20th Century Fox, which Disney officially acquired in March.
If you included those numbers all of Disney’s studios accounted for $13.1 billion.
Though ticket sales in North America were down 4.4 percent overall, Disney’s films accounted for 38 percent of all domestic moviegoing.
The drop in overall ticket sales makes Hollywood cynics believe that the age of streaming is keeping people home. The folks at Disney – which has its own streaming service which will have access to all of Disney’s huge 2019 releases – don’t quite see it that way.
“There’s plenty of capacity to bring people to the movie screen,” says Cathleen Taff, distribution chief for Disney. “What I think we’re doing is competing for their time. If it’s not great, they do have other options. But when it is great, people show up. And we’ve seen that this year with seven $1 billion movies.”
Investors seem to agree. Disney stock is up 36 percent compared to a year ago. Shares are hovering just below an all-time high.
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Disney 2019 Billion Dollar Club:
- “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” ($724.8 million through Sunday, but certain to crack the mark)
- “Avengers: Endgame” (the highest-grossing release ever)
- “The Lion King”
- “Captain Marvel”
- “Toy Story 4”
- “Frozen II”
Looking ahead, Disney sets out for another new record with two new movies based on Marvel Comics (as “Avengers” and “Captain Marvel” were). Scarlett Johansson headlines “Black Widow” which hits theaters in May.
In November another comic book entry with “The Eternals” which tells the story of a race of immortal beings who lived on Earth and helped shape its history and stars Angelina Jolie, Kit Harington of “Game of Thrones” fame and Salma Hayek.
The Associated Press contributed to this report