Disney Dominated 2019 Box Office with Hit After Hit
Odds are pretty good that you watched a Disney movie last year. And I’d say that even if you weren’t reading this on a site called MickeyBlog.
Walt Disney Studios ruled the movie industry in a rare and profound way. Let’s take a look back at what just happened to appreciate the greatness of the achievement. Here’s how Disney dominated 2019 at the box office.
The Big Numbers
As a Disney fan, I know that you’re not as interested in a bunch of numbers as you are in hearing how great Disney is. Well, this article will combine both!
The movies that Disney released during 2019 earned $11.1 billion in North America. That’s 33 percent of the entire industry’s take for the year!
I’ll put it another different way for clarity. One out of every three box office dollars last year went toward Disney movies. Folks, Disney isn’t even that dominant in the theme park industry!
Discussing the Competition
Now, you may wonder whether this situation is unprecedented. I can say with complete sincerity that it is. For most Hollywood studios, Netflix and other streaming serviced have caused devastating disruption in the industry. Studios like Sony and Paramount seem ripe for takeover attempts since their business is so inconsistent.
Meanwhile, Disney has turned a formerly competitive industry into something approaching a monopoly. No movie studio has claimed this much market share during the 21st century! We would have to return to the Golden Age of Hollywood to find something similar.
The second-most successful movie studio during 2019 was Warner Bros. The corporation’s total market share was only 13.7 percent. Meanwhile, Universal finished third with 13.4 percent. Yes, Disney sold more tickets than the next two studios combined!
Seven of the top nine theatrical releases of 2019 were Disney titles. And one of the other two was Spider-Man: Far From Home, which features a character that Disney owns. That statement alone defines Disney’s dominance.
To be fair, the company loaded the deck from the beginning. Disney’s first major release of 2019 featured a character from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
The symbol for Captain Marvel briefly appeared during the closing credits for Avengers: Infinity War. Nick Fury immediately signaled her in a time of crisis. And that demonstrated how powerful she must be.
Captain Marvel, as a movie, played out as Carol Danvers’ origin story. Audiences fell in love on day one when the film earned $61.7 million on its way to an opening weekend of $153.4 million. Only Black Panther did better as a new superhero movie on opening weekend.
The movie ultimately finished with $426.8 million in North America and $1.128 billion worldwide. Both of these numbers were good enough for fifth place out of all 2019 releases. Amazingly, they were only fifth among Disney releases. That’s a good year, everyone.
Many questions popped up in the wake of trailers for the Aladdin remake. People loudly denounced Will Smith for his portrayal of the Genie. They judged the entire movie due to a few seconds of footage. Because the criticism seemed so pervasive, some analysts projected disappointing totals for the 2019 version of Aladdin.
Aladdin dominated Memorial Day weekend at the box office. The film pulled in $116.8 million over the holiday period on its way to $355.6 million domestically and $1.05 billion overall. Believe it or not, these totals will ultimately make Aladdin the “weakest” performer of Disney’s Big Seven of 2019.
PS: Aladdin received an A Cinemascore. Remember that the next time somebody pre-judges a film based on a trailer.
The Lion King
In a way, The Lion King’s most significant competition was itself. Everyone adores the original movie from 1994. In fact, I have argued that the only two films atop the hierarchy of the Disney Renaissance are Beauty & the Beast and The Lion King.
Back in 1994, the original version attained a staggering $421.8 million domestically and $986.2 million worldwide. At the time, it was the second-most lucrative blockbuster EVER.
While most people expected big things of the remake, few believed that it would outperform the original. Suckers. The 2019 version somehow managed $543.6 million and $1.657 billion.
As I type this, the 2019 remark of The Lion King is the #11 movie all-time in North America and the #7 movie worldwide. For any other studio, this would have been the success story of a generation. For Disney, it was only the silver medalist for 2019.
Toy Story 4
Disney stacked down with animation releases, too. They produced the two most massive films of the year, no small feat with Lego Movie and How to Train Your Dragon sequels also available.
The first significant Disney animated sequel arrived in June. Since Toy Story 3 had tied up many storylines, only one mystery remained for the fourth outing. Whatever happened to Bo Peep? Well, audiences learned that she had gone out on her own and even made some new friends.
Thankfully, Bo Peep’s reunion with Woody and Buzz proved satisfactory. And three new friends – Ducky, Bunny, and Forky – quickly won everyone’s hearts. People even had a soft spot for Duke Caboom, a fake toy who was eerily similar to Evel Knievel, only extremely Canadian.
Toy Story 4 always looked like a slam dunk on paper. It played out that way in theaters, also. The sequel earned $434 million domestically and $1.073 billion worldwide. For most studios, it was a blockbuster for the ages. For Disney, it was their #5 release for the year.
While expectations for Toy Story 4 were lofty, they certainly couldn’t compare to Frozen II. The much-anticipated sequel to Frozen faced some questions before its release, though. Analysts wondered whether there were any good story ideas for a sequel. And the saturation of Frozen troubled some people who remembered the oversaturation of the first film.
In truth, the last time that we’d seen Frozen characters in the theaters, guests had complained. Olaf’s Frozen Adventure played for 21 minutes before the start of Coco. Including trailers and commercials, that Pixar film didn’t start until 45 minutes after its scheduled time. Audiences complained on social media, and Frozen absorbed much of the blame.
However, by the time November of 2019 rolled around, all was clearly forgiven. Frozen II absolutely crushed the box office, becoming the all-time champion for the biggest global launch for an animated movie. It beat the record previously held by…Toy Story 4. It was that kind of year for Disney.
Frozen 2’s current box office totals are $449.9 million in North America and $1.325 billion worldwide. It’s legitimately one of the most lucrative animated movies in history, a thought that would warm Walt Disney’s heart.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Evaluating this one is a bit more challenging. As I type this, the climactic film in the third Star Wars trilogy isn’t as successful as Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Still, The Rise of Skywalker has pleased plenty of the most loyal Star Wars fans, many of whom expressed frustration with The Last Jedi.
Disney faced a difficult challenge here, as they couldn’t please everyone with this film. Still, movie executives seem pleased with the current take of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
After 17 days in theaters, Star Wars IX has grossed $450.8 million domestically and $919 million worldwide. It’ll become Disney’s seventh 2019 release to pass $1 billion. However, some of that money will stem from 2020 ticket sales. Don’t worry. It still counts!
There can be only one. Connor McLeod said it, and we all know it. In the entire history of the world, only one thing can claim to be the best. For basketball, it’s Michael Jordan. With cartoon characters, it’s Mickey Mouse. And in the movie industry, the alpha is now Avengers: Endgame.
Back in 2009 and early 2010, I chronicled every day of Avatar’s ascension to the top of the box office throne. At the time, I openly wondered whether that record would stand forever. After all, box office ticket sales were already in decline.
Yes, Star Wars: The Force Awakens broke Avatar’s domestic record, but it was nowhere near the global one. It fell $700 million short. So, the idea that Avengers: Endgame might break the record seemed extraordinarily optimistic. However, that’s somehow precisely what happened.
First, Avengers: Endgame shattered the opening weekend record by almost exactly $100 million. Infinity War had previously set the record with $257.7 million. Endgame somehow managed $357.1 million. Oddly, the climactic Avengers movie wouldn’t break the domestic record, though.
The Force Awakens grossed an almost incomprehensible $936.7 million in North America. Endgame finished second with $858.4 million. The difference is that Marvel is much more popular internationally than Star Wars, especially in China.
Avengers: Endgame somehow grossed $1.939 billion overseas. Only four other movies have done that overall. The Avengers movie did it solely in foreign markets, an astounding and inimitable achievement.
Overall, the movie grossed $2.798 billion, making it the number one blockbuster of all-time. Disney is now at a crossroads, as the current version of the MCU evolves. But no one can ever question the impossible success of Avengers: Endgame.
With box office in decline, the global total of Endgame appears like a record that will never get broken. However, if any studio does, you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s Disney that does so.