We knew that Disney was set up to have a big 2019 and we even predicted that it would be Disney’s biggest box office year ever. And guess what? We were right! Of course, it didn’t take Nostradamus to foresee this outcome, given Disney’s massive slate of tentpole films. But, now that the year is coming to a close, we’re getting a real understanding of the incredible amount that Disney dominated at the box office in 2019.
Perhaps the most telling indicator of Mouse House’s box office success and almost complete supremacy is the fact that Disney produced an unprecedented 80 percent of 2019’s top box office hits. As highlighted by The Verge, the house that Mickey built made a whopping eight out of the top 10 highest-grossing films of 2019 domestically.
This is after the recent release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which debuted to over $175 million domestically, instantly supplanting the entire run of Jordan Peele’s Us for tenth place in a matter of days. Since that time, The Rise of Skywalker has continued to do solid business at the box office, including over Christmas Day and it now sits at number nine on the domestic charts according to Box Office Mojo, followed by IT Chapter Two.
The domestic top 10 paints a picture of the most popular films in a given year and Disney not only has the controlling share of it in 2019, it has an overwhelming piece of the market. It’s not even close. Even by Disney’s standards, 2019 has been huge.
In 2018, Disney made five of the top 10 highest-grossing domestic films. In 2017 it was four. Even in 2016, Disney’s previous record-breaking year, that number was only six. In 2019, it’s eight.
The only two films that stood up to the Mouse’s might? Warner Bros.’ Joker, which is currently in eighth place domestically but will inevitably drop to ninth when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker passes it. In sixth place is Sony’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, which was co-produced by Disney and Marvel Studios, with Marvel handling creative. So, you could almost say that Disney made eight-and-a-half of the top 10 highest-grossing domestic films in 2019.
Disney’s will to dominate drove the powerhouse studio to a record-breaking $10+ billion at the box office in 2019, with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Frozen II money still coming in. That utterly destroys the studio’s 2016 record of $7.6 billion.
It may not be to everyone’s liking, but it shows that Disney’s purchases of Lucasfilm and Marvel, and its strategy to focus on blockbuster franchises and live-action remakes, has paid off in spades.
The studio’s success has also been driven by the fact that while opinions will vary, it generally makes critically well received films, whereas other studios' blockbusters are more hit and miss. Walt Disney was right, the quality will win out.
While this might seem like our new normal, Disney’s 2020 isn’t nearly as stacked as 2019. Next year has no new Star Wars movie and the MCU films aren’t and can’t be as big as Avengers: Endgame. There are a bunch of exciting new original animated movies, but they don’t have the built-in audience of the likes of Toy Story 4, so how well they will do is yet to be determined.
Disney is also diversifying and looking to dominate a new realm by making more content for its new streaming service, Disney+.
Check out what Disney and every other studio has in store for next year in our 2020 Release Schedule and stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest movie news.
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Nick grew up in Maryland has degrees in Film Studies and Communications. His life goal is to walk the earth, meet people and get into adventures. He’s also still looking for The Adventures of Pete and Pete season 3 on DVD if anyone has a lead.
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