Disney has become the first film studio to take $7bn (£5.7bn) in global ticket sales in a year, after Star Wars spin-off Rogue One became its latest hit in 2016.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which tells the story of the mission to steal the plans for the Death Star, took almost $300m (£323m) globally on its opening weekend. The film’s performance has propelled the studio past the $6.9bn record set by Universal last year, when Jurassic World and Furious 7 dominated the box office.
With almost two weeks of the year left, the momentum generated by the most famous sci-fi franchise in the world and the popularity of the studio’s animated film Moana is likely to push Disney’s overall takings closer to $8bn.
Disney has released the four top-grossing films of the year so far with Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory and Zootopia taking more than $1bn at the global box office, while a live-action version of The Jungle Book fell just short. Doctor Strange, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, released in November, has made more than $650m to date.
“These films work because each one has not only something for everyone, but everything for someone,” said Alan Horn, Walt Disney Studios chairman. “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.”
Last year, Disney made nearly $5.9bn in worldwide ticket sales, with $1.3bn of that coming from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Disney bosses had cautioned not to expect spin-off Rogue One to emulate the huge success of that film, which grossed more than $2bn globally when its takings across 2015 and 2016 are totalled.
Nevertheless it is set to be another huge hit for the Disney-owned Lucasfilm unit, which the studio acquired for $4bn in 2012, and will propel its start to 2017. With the next instalment of the Star Wars saga, Episode VIII, due next December, Disney is expecting another strong year at the global box office.
“The next film in the Star Wars saga has the potential to claim the title as the biggest movie of all time,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a film analyst with comScore. That title is still held by Avatar, which made almost $2.8bn in 2009, followed by Titanic with $2.2bn in 1997. The Force Awakens has made about $2.07bn.
deal was preceded by the $7.4bn spent on Pixar, the animated producer of Finding Nemo, Toy Story and The Incredibles, in 2006. Disney’s hit factory was completed with 2009’s $4bn purchase of Marvel Comics’ sprawling superhero universe, comprising 5,000 characters including the X-Men, Iron Man and Captain America.
Disney blockbusters in 2016
1. Captain America: Civil War $1.15bn
2. Zootopia $1.023bn
3. Finding Dory $1.022bn
4. The Jungle Book $966m
5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens $2.07bn ($736m in 2016)
6. Doctor Strange $652m (to date)
7. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ($290m opening weekend)
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