Whenever pundits analyze or break down the entertainment industry, one company continually comes up: Disney. After all, The Walt Disney Company owns so much at this point, including theme parks and TV networks. In fact, some consider them as holding a monopoly on entertainment.
Since its purchase of Pixar in 2006, Disney has been scooping up properties at a steady, unstoppable pace. In the past decade, the Mouse House has acquired Marvel, Star Wars‘ Lucasfilm, and most recently, Fox. So, of course, Disney’s foothold at the box office continues to grow.
The highest-grossing films of the year
Both domestically and globally, Disney boasts 7 out of the 10 most successful films of 2019. We’ll get to the specifics of which films made the biggest impact at the box office shortly. But first, let’s give a worthy shout-out to the few releases who contended with Disney’s heavy hitters.
Domestically, Jordan Peele’s Us from Universal sits at number 10, the only non-franchise entry to crack the list. Above it are Warner Bros.’ It: Chapter Two and Joker — which also made the worldwide list — at 9 and 7, respectively. Worldwide, the only outliers in the top 10 are Universal’s Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw and Japan’s animated adventure Ne Zha.
Of course, there’s another month left in the year — as of this writing — for things to shift a bit. However, Sony’s Jumanji: The Next Level and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker are the only remaining releases blockbusters that can compete on this level. Expect the latter film to bump Disney releases up to eight out of the top 10 2019 slots.
How Disney has stayed on top
Now on to Disney itself. As alluded earlier, Disney has been able to build on its box office domination by giving audiences more of what has worked in the past. Take, for instance, the 2019 remakes of The Lion King and Aladdin, each of which brought in more than $1 billion worldwide.
Of course, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is the real crown jewel in Disney’s catalog these days. With a decade of audience goodwill behind them, all three 2019 MCU films are in the top five highest-grossers. As the biggest global hit of all time, Avengers: Endgame‘s $2.8 billion worldwide makes it the year’s undisputed champ.
Even Disney’s other two 2019 blockbusters tap into nostalgia. Toy Story 4 is arguably a film with no real reason to exist after its 2010 predecessor tied up the trilogy. And Frozen 2 was inevitable after the original’s inescapable cultural impact.
Can Disney keep it going in 2020?
With 2019 such a red-letter year for Disney, the question now is clear: Can Disney keep this momentum going in 2020? The studio’s upcoming slate indicates it is very possible.
Looking at its box office pillars, Disney has two more MCU films in store for audiences. Neither Black Widow nor Eternals will bring in Avengers numbers, but either could easily surpass expectations. The studio also has not one but two original Pixar films on deck, including Onward and Soul.
Beyond those releases, the live-action Mulan arrives next year as does the first in a potential franchise based on the Artemis Fowl novels. There’s also Dwayne Johnson-led Jungle Cruise, based on the Disney theme park attraction, and animated fantasy Raya and the Last Dragon.
Next year brings fewer sequels than 2019, and because of this, it’s more difficult to gauge how much Disney will continue to dominate audiences’ theatrical experience. But between the above films and whatever the future holds for Disney+, the studio clearly isn’t planning on slowing down anytime soon. Strap in, Mouseketeers.