An interesting new report has been released containing the profit rankings of each major studio in the entertainment industry for the year 2014. As the results seem to indicate, the ever-changing methods through which the studios channel their content are making it increasingly difficult to discern who truly has the upper hand.
According to the report from The Hollywood Reporter, the numerical profitability ranking of the six major studios yields no surprise by the dominance of Disney. However, the same anecdotal logic creating that mindset is seemingly upended by the closeness of the numbers compared to their runner-up peers.
1. Walt Disney - $1.7 billion
2. 21st Century Fox - $1.5 billion
3. Warner Bros. - $1.3 billion
4. NBCUNIVERSAL - $711 million
5. Sony - $522 million
6. Paramount - $219 million
The collective numbers for studio profits remain ironically solid in a year that saw domestic box-office continue a downslide of 5.2 percent and physical format sales of movies see an 11 percent slide. This is due, in part, by the video-on-demand streaming medium, which has created a lot of ambiguity regarding who is watching what, how they are watching it and how it is that they’re paying. (If they’re paying, at all.)
As mentioned, Disney’s place on the top of this list probably yielded very little in the over-under. The monumental lasting success of the late 2013 release of Frozen, was the clear centerpiece, as one of the biggest cultural phenomenon in recent years. That film, along with other successful animated features like Big Hero 6, would also join the studio's embarrassment of riches with their other major tentpole properties under the Disney banner; notably the Marvel Studios comic book movies, which dominated the genre with Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. One would think that it would be a year of supreme dominance for Disney, stratospherically separating them from the rest of the studio pack. However, its impressive $1.7 billion was only trailed close behind by 21st Century Fox’s $1.5 billion.
It seems that Fox’s neck-and-neck numbers with the Disney monolith was achieved by maintaining a comparatively lower-key, but nevertheless solid, array of $100+ million performers. Besides the successful comic book tentpole, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Fox quietly did some great business in 2014 with films Mr. Peabody & Sherman, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Exodus: Gods and Kings. Consequentially, they may have achieved the moral victory for 2014 as far as consistency was concerned.
The $1.3 billion third place performance of Warner Bros. would result from a healthy mix of cost-cutting measures and, just as Disney, was buttressed by the success of hype-heavy, big-budged bonanzas like The Hobbit: There and Back Again, The LEGO Movie and Godzilla. Additionally, their DC Comics IP was fruitful with TV’s Gotham, Arrow and The Flash, with plans for a serious boost on the movie front next year with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
The rest of the pack down the list are probably consistent with where they are, with the exception of Sony, who had a tumultuous 2014 with the headline-dominating hacking scandal, which led to a dramatic changeup in the studio’s leadership from the top-down. Plus, there was the geopolitical scandal surrounding The Interview and the studio’s apparent willingness to capitulate to the whims of a totalitarian regime that seriously damaged how they were perceived and led to further financial losses.
Overall, these number reflect that we are in the midst of a major shift in the industry, as it tries to catch up with the numerous technological variables that have affected the old business models. Plus, with the Internet’s ability to evolve culture and habits quicker than ever, the very things that that we choose to consume continue to experience a serious flux.