The Walt Disney Studios had its best year ever at the domestic box office and second-highest global total in 2018. Disney remains a cut above its competition, thanks in large part to Marvel Studios. In a year where Star Wars faltered, the Marvel Cinematic Universe asserted itself as the world’s preferred franchise.
Disney earned $3.09B in North America in 2018, besting its own industry record of $3B in 2016. Marvel Studios accounted for more than half of Disney’s 2018 domestic sum. Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Ant-Man and the Wasp combined for nearly $1.6B in North America last year.
Marvel Studios was responsible for an even greater share of Disney’s $7.33B worldwide haul. Marvel’s three 2018 films earned $4.02B at the global box office. Despite Marvel Studios’ best year ever, Disney could not match its 2016 record of $7.61B worldwide.
Disney had hits outside of Marvel Studios, most notably Incredibles 2 ($1.24B). There were disappointments, however, and those kept Disney from breaking its own global mark. Had Solo: A Star Wars Story ($392.9M) not bombed, that might have been enough for a new record.
Star Wars was thought to be Disney’s crown jewel when the company purchased Lucasfilm in 2012, but Marvel has gone on to become to biggest movie franchise in the world. Both Star Wars and Marvel, of course, will remain key contributors to Disney’s success in 2019 and for many years to come.
Disney’s non-Marvel studios will have to step up if 2019 is to be as lucrative as 2018. Disney can only count two Marvel Studios films in its box office earnings this year (Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame), as Sony Pictures will distribute Spider-Man: Far From Home.
A quick glance at Disney’s 2019 slate makes it seem almost unfair to every other studio. Disney’s live-action studio will have a billion-dollar hit in The Lion King while Dumbo and Aladdin should do well enough. Disney•Pixar’s Toy Story 4 and Disney Animation’s Frozen 2 also have billion-dollar potential.
Despite what happened with Solo, Disney can expect Star Wars: Episode IX to rebound nicely in December. It should end up well over $1B at the box office, just as the previous two films in this currently trilogy have done.
At this point, Disney’s greatest competition is itself.