Home >industry >Rogue One blasts Disney into box office orbit, all-time record

New York: The magic is real in 2016.

Walt Disney Studios crushed box office records this year, becoming the first to break $7 billion globally. The December release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which raked in almost $300 million its opening weekend, may have pushed Disney over the top, but it was a trio of billion-dollar films that set the stage for the most dominant year ever from a movie maker.

Globally, Disney has the four top grossing films of the year: Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory, Zootopia, and The Jungle Book (the only one not to hit 10 figures). If Rogue One ends up defeating Universal Studios’s The Secret Life of Pets, which made just over $875 million, Disney will have all five.

“This historic achievement is possible because all of our film studios are bringing their absolute best to the table, telling great stories of all kinds that resonate with audiences across borders, gender, and generations," Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, said in a statement.

Indeed, this level of dominance is unprecedented, said Geetha Ranganathan, a media analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. She expects Disney’s roll to continue into 2017, with additional Marvel superhero movies slated to go along with the next episode of the Star Wars saga and a reboot of Beauty and the Beast.

“I don’t think anyone else comes close," said Ranganathan. “It’s not that other studios don’t have franchises; they do, but we’ve seen them fall back on execution."

Much of Disney’s success was spurred by three major acquisitions. The media giant spent more than $15 billion to buy Marvel, Pixar, and Lucasfilm. Each produced a big hit this year. So did Walt Disney Pictures and Disney Animation Studios.

That isn’t to say Disney made only gold in 2016. Stink bombs included Alice Through the Looking Glass, Pete’s Dragon, and The BFG.

But even with those setbacks, the mouse reached the top of the mountain. Here are the films that helped Disney rule 2016:

Captain America: Civil War

Produced by: Marvel Studios

Global box office revenue: $1.15 billion

The latest instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe pitted heroes against heroes and took the top spot for domestic and global box office, a testament to viewers’ insatiable interest in comic book characters. And there’s plenty more where that comes from–three more big-name Marvel movies are coming out in 2017: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Thor: Ragnarok, and Spider-Man: Homecoming (though the latter will be released by Sony, not Disney.)

Finding Dory

Produced by: Pixar Animation Studios

Global box office revenue: $1.03 billion

The long-awaited sequel to 2003’s underwater animated adventure Finding Nemo drew crowds once again, with the widest release of any Pixar film to date. This time, the story follows Ellen Degeneres’s lovably forgetful blue fish Dory as she searches for her family.


Produced by: Walt Disney Animation Studios

Global box office revenue: $1.02 billion

Disney’s third billion-dollar film came in the form of a city full of anthropomorphic animals led by plucky police bunny Judy Hopps. Zootopia is another original story from Disney Animation Studios, which has managed to slip out of Pixar’s shadow in recent years, thanks to such hits as Frozen and Big Hero 6.

The Jungle Book

Produced by: Walt Disney Pictures

Global box office revenue: $967 million

The Jungle Book is Disney’s second live-action adaptation of a story about a boy raised in the wild, based on Rudyard Kipling’s works and Disney’s 1967 film. It surpassed all expectations to become one of the year’s biggest hits.

Doctor Strange

Produced by: Marvel Studios

Global box office revenue: $653 million

Marvel dug deeper into its trove of characters for Doctor Strange, and plenty of people came to see it nonetheless. Benedict Cumberbatch’s mystical hero is no Captain America, but the movie managed to beat out previous MCU films such as Thor: The Dark World and Ant-Man.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Produced by: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Global box office revenue (through one week): $306 million

Rogue One was Lucasfilm’s first big screen effort to expand the Star Wars universe beyond the nine-episode saga. While the eighth episode of the primary series is due next year, another side story—the tale of a young Han Solo, a main character from the original films—is due out in 2018. Disney hopes fans will be just as enthralled with these new characters and plots about that galaxy far, far away.


Produced by: Walt Disney Animation Studios

Global box office revenue (through four weeks): $282 million

The latest Disney princess subverted many traditional tropes. (There’s no love interest!) Moana, a story about the daughter of a Polynesian chief, had the second-best Thanksgiving opening ever. While she’s not expected to sell mountains of toys the way Frozen’s Elsa has, she’s evidently got lots of appeal. Bloomberg

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