Disney Has Unprecedented Third of Box Office Sales This Year

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Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) has posted a record year in studio market share, while the overall industry has posted a record year in ticket sales. Disney movies have owned a third of all tickets sold in the United States in the period from January 1 through August 31. If it comes close in its efforts to keep the lead, Disney will post an annual market share not matched in any year in the 21st century.

Total ticket sales this year were $8.3 billion through the first eight months. The 2018 annual number should blow by the $11 billion-plus posted by the industry in the previous three years. At the current pace, 2018 ticket sales could actually top $12 billion. Blockbusters set to be released late in the year virtually guarantee this.

Disney’s primary Buena Vista studio has sold $2.7 billion in tickets this year, for a market share of 33% exactly. Universal, owned by Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ: CMCSA), has a share of 13.1%, followed by AT&T Inc.’s (NYSE: T) Warner Bros. at 11.9%. After that Sony/Columbia has a share of 9.6%, followed by 20th Century Fox at 9.0%.

Disney’s success has been built by three movies. So far this year “Black Panther” has brought in an unexpected $700 million. The title character is an obscure member of the huge cast of Marvel comic heroes. “Avengers: Infinity War” has posted ticket sales of $679 million. It is another movie based on comic book heroes. “Incredibles 2,” the sequel to a movie made in 2004, is another unexpected hit because the original is 14 years old. It is an animated movie.

Most years, the top studio based on share has 15% to 20% of the market. Disney has a chance to come close to doubling that.