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Why Disney Owns the Global Box Office and Isn’t Stopping

Why Disney Owns the Global Box Office and Isn't Stopping

There’s nothing like the virtuous cycle of a studio winning streak. And so, at more than $900 million and 25% market share, Disney has overtaken 2015 box office winner Universal— and, thanks to a label strategy fueled by Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars,’ Marvel, and Pixar, this appears to be only the start of the juggernaut.
Record-breaking $2 billion late-year global blockbuster “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” jump-started the 2016 box office, followed by animated sleeper “Zootopia,” which is heading toward $900 million worldwide.

And then there’s Jon Favreau’s “The Jungle Book,” which has exceeded all expectations, seen great reviews (94% Fresh), and has been the #1 film every day since its domestic run began April 15. As of May 2, it’s at $708.6 million at the global box office.

In China, the film has brought in $138.8 million; in India, it’s already the highest-grossing Hollywood release of all time with $34.4 million. Other top markets include the U.K. ($48 million), Mexico ($19.9 million) and France ($19.4 million). The film opens in Korea on June 9 and in Japan on August 11.
Because they do so much business early on, films that open to more than $100 million often struggle to get to a three-time multiple. “The Jungle Book,” which opened to $103 million, is approaching 2.5 times domestic in only 17 days. Expect this to approach or top $1 billion worldwide, joining “Zootopia” —and besting “Batman v Superman” and “Deadpool,” both of which will fall short.
Disney is poised to continue this winning streak with Marvel’s Phase Three “Captain America: Civil War” (May 6), which could open at “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” levels and wind up well over $300 million-plus domestic. (More details in our weekend box office preview.)

READ MORE: Disney Shows 27 Minutes of ‘Finding Dory’ –and Other Reasons why Rivals Are Jealous. 

And the would-be hits just keep coming. Andrew Stanton’s Pixar sequel “Finding Dory” (June 17) screened the first 27 minutes at CinemaCon to raves from assorted media and exhibitors. Expect another blockbuster Oscar contender on the order of “Finding Nemo” —that grossed $953 million worldwide.
Also in 2016 is Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” (November 4), starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and the inimitable Tilda Swinton as the Yoda-like mentor who initiates the mangled neurosurgeon into new and magical wonders in Nepal. “Black Panther” (Chadwick Boseman), who is introduced in “Civil War” (along with Tom Holland as young Peter Parker/”Spider-Man”), will have a standalone movie in 2018. The Hulk will return in “Thor: Ragnarak” in 2017.
Coming up at Cannes is a DreamWorks entry from Steven Spielberg, his wondrous-looking Roald Dahl fantasy adaptation “The BFG” (July 1) written by the late “E.T.” scribe Melissa Mathison, about an androgynous orphan who is scooped up by an animated giant (“Bridge of Spies” Oscar-winner Mark Rylance).
Disney does well with live-action fairy tales, such as “Maleficent” and “Cinderella;”  the studio expects the “Alice Through the Looking Glass” sequel (May 27, 2016) and “Beauty and the Beast” (March 17, 2017) to score in the same $700 million global ballpark. And I can’t wait to see what indie stalwart David Lowery does with the live-action “Pete’s Dragon” (August 12).

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