Disney’s record for the highest box office in a calendar year has been absolutely crushed… by Disney. The Mouse House crossed the $10 billion threshold at the 2019 worldwide box office this weekend, bolstered by the continued success of Frozen II, solidifying its record for the highest box office in a calendar year. The previous record was set by Disney in 2016 with a measly $7.6 billion. Chump change.
And that insane $10 billion doesn’t even count Fox’s box office, which officially became part of Disney this year. If you add in the Fox receipts, Disney’s total worldwide box office in 2019 amounts to $11.94 billion. And this is all before Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens on December 20th, which will boost Disney’s numbers even higher.
This banner year for the Walt Disney Company has been anchored by the worldwide successes of Avengers: Endgame ($2.79 billion), The Lion King ($1.6 billion), Captain Marvel ($1.2 billion), Toy Story 4 ($1.07 billion), Aladdin ($1.05 billion), and the aforementioned Frozen II, whose global box office tally now stands at a whopping $920 million after only three weeks in release.
Disney’s 2019 release calendar was filled out almost entirely by sequels and live-action remakes, and even the films that didn’t quite hit as big as the others still pulled in not-insignificant numbers. Dumbo crossed $353.2 million this spring, while Maleficent: Mistress of Evil cleared $481.3 million worldwide this fall—although the latter film came up nearly $300 million short of the box office tally of the first Maleficent. So don’t hold your breath for Maleficent 3—the bar for success at Disney has basically risen to $500 million worldwide as a minimum.
But even factoring in these “disappointments,” Disney shattered its own box office record. The only film that could remotely be considered an “original” in here is Captain Marvel, which chronicled the origin story of Brie Larson’s titular superhero. But even then, as with every previous Marvel movie, it benefited from being an integral part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is of course based on an existing comic book.
So yes, it is quite depressing to see the box office record shattered using only known IP, but clearly Disney isn’t going to stop clinging to existing properties as long as audiences keep showing up in droves. 2020 does bring us two original Pixar movies and a unique-looking live-action remake in Mulan, but there’s still plenty of franchise material on the way. Here’s hoping Disney at least continues to let Fox make bold, original films like A Cure for Wellness and Red Sparrow or even “adult dramas” like this year’s excellent Ford v Ferrari.