In most years, a studio wins the domestic box office market share crown with 20%, or slightly less, of total industry ticket sales. This year may be very different. Walt Disney Co.’s (NYSE: DIS) Buena Vista holds 30% of the industry’s market share through mid-October. If it ends up anywhere near that level at the end of the year, it may set a record for the best share in decades.
Through October 14, Disney’s holds 29.5% of the domestic market, which gives it a total of $2.75 billion. Next on the market share list, Warner Bros. is at 14.6%, or $1.36 billion. That is followed by Universal at 13.2% for $1.23 billion, Sony at 10.9% or $1.02 billion, and 20th Century Fox at 8.6% or $806 million.
Disney’s success is due to a few blockbusters. “Black Panther” broke several records on its way to domestic ticket sales of $700 million. “Avengers: Infinity War” brought in $678 million. “Incredibles 2” brought in $607 million. It is an animated film. Each of the movies opened some time ago: “Black Panther” on February 14, “Infinity War” on April 27 and “Incredibles 2” on June 15.
Disney has several other movies to be released this year that could help it hold its studio share lead. “Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2” is a follow-up on a successful animated feature. “Mary Poppins Returns” is also expected to post huge ticket sales.
Theater ticket sales have become a smaller and smaller part of mega-media-company revenue. Films are syndicated across a number of other platforms, which include online releases by the media companies on their own platforms and by streaming portals, led by Netflix. And international theater ticket sales can approach domestic numbers.
However, the movie studios carry the initial risk based on theater sales. While not a rule, movies that do well based on domestic box office do well later in other forms of distribution.
Disney’s box office almost certainly will set a market share record this year. That share level will be so high, it may not be broken.