Here’s Why Disney Is Having Its Best Year Ever at the Box Office

November 2, 2016, 9:47 PM UTC
Photograph by Getty Images

With nearly two more months left in 2016, Walt Disney looks primed to blow away the Hollywood record for yearly box-office haul.

This year is already Disney’s biggest ever at the box office, as the studio has kept up what it does best: releasing a steady stream of comic book adaptations that are popular with fans and critics alike, while also relying on the past success of its Pixar franchises to create newer, bigger blockbusters.

Walt Disney Studios announced on Wednesday that it’s officially set a personal record with $5.85 billion in global movie ticket sales through the start of November. That total puts Disney roughly $1 billion behind the all-time yearly record for global box office receipts set last year by Comcast’s Universal (nearly $6.9 billion), a number the “Mouse House” should easily top with a handful of major releases still yet to hit theaters.

First up is Doctor Strange, the latest critically-acclaimed release from Disney’s Marvel Studios that pulled in $88 million in its overseas opening this past weekend—an impressive total considering the film doesn’t open in China, the world’s second-largest movie market, until this weekend. Doctor Strange also opens in the U.S. this weekend and the movie’s strong critical reception—including a 91% aggregate rating on Rotten Tomatoes—suggests it could be the latest box-office hit for Disney and Marvel.

Disney already scored big over the summer with Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, the year’s biggest movie so far, at $1.15 billion in global ticket sales. In fact, Civil War is one of three Disney movies to top $1 billion in global box office in 2016, joining Pixar’s Finding Dory and Zootopia (both made $1.02 billion globally), according to Box Office Mojo. And, with the live-action version of The Jungle Book ($966 million) that Disney put out in April, the studio already claims four of the six highest-grossing movies of the year.

The studio also withstood its share of misses this year, though, including a massive flop in Alice Through the Looking Glass. The children’s book adaptation The BFG and the remake of Pete’s Dragon also underwhelmed at a summer box-office chock full of big-budget films.

Disney still has another highly-anticipated animated feature waiting in the wings, with Moana due for release on Nov. 23. The film features a Polynesian princess and stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, with songs co-written by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.


Meanwhile, next month, Disney will again tap into a massively popular franchise with its first-ever standalone Star Wars spin-off movie: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. That movie hits theaters on Dec. 16, which is almost exactly one year after the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which blasted past box office records on its way to becoming the highest-grossing domestic release ever. In fact, because The Force Awakens remained in theaters around the world into 2016, roughly $736 million of the movie’s more than $2 billion global box-office haul counted toward Disney’s 2016 total, the company said on Wednesday.

Rogue One isn’t necessarily expected to reach the same heights as The Force Awakens—it focuses mostly on a new set of characters outside of the main Star Wars narrative—but the franchise is so popular right now that the movie is almost certain to sell a huge number of tickets.

With high expectations for its remaining 2016 releases, Disney is almost certain to set a new record for yearly box-office revenue. The only real question that remains is: How much bigger can Disney’s 2016 box office get?