Walt Disney Co.’s (NYSE: DIS) domestic box office haul is close to $1 billion for 2018, which is well ahead of its competition. Just two movies have pushed it into the lead and position.
According to Box Office Mojo, through April 15, ticket sales for Disney’s Buena Vista were $903 million. That figure is now well over a week old, and Disney’s biggest films of the year continue to draw people to theaters.
The smash hit “Black Panther” posted ticket sales of $647 million over the course of the period measured. It has not taken the year to date to reach a number of ticket sales milestones. The movie was released on February 16. The other hit that has helped Disney is “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which opened December 15. Its 2018 ticket sales have reached $103 million in 2018.
A new film will lengthen Disney’s lead. “Avengers: Infinity War” will be released on April 27. Its sales may move higher than “Black Panther.” The first two Avengers movies brought in just above $1 billion in domestic ticket sales. “Marvel’s The Avengers” was released in May 2012 and had ticket sales of $624 million. “Avengers: Age of Ultron” was released in May 2015 and had $495 million.
The closest studio competition for Disney this year is Warner Bros. Its ticket sales hit $410 million through April 15. Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” is a large portion of that at $115 million. The movie will be in theaters for at least several weeks, as it was released on March 29.
In the eyes of many investors, Disney has stumbled because of the move of media consumption to smartphones and bundles of content that people watch without the use of cable TV. The company’s ESPN sports network, a huge part of Disney’s bottom line, has been battered. Consumers have watched it as part of cable packages, and the number of people who pay for those packages has fallen.
Disney also has to rely on companies such as Netflix and Amazon to distribute its content. It has lost much of its control of direct distribution because of these deals. Longtime CEO Roberg Iger said that Disney will launch its own streaming service next year. At the same time, it will take its films off Netflix.
Unless and until Disney’s new ways to reach consumers have been successful, it is lucky its box office sales are flourishing.