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Dory Finds its way to $1 Billion

October 13th, 2016

Finding Dory

Last weekend, Finding Dory became the 27th film to earn $1 billion worldwide. In doing so, it created a lot of interesting tidbits worth talking about. But first, the history of $1 billion movies.

The first film to reach $1 billion worldwide was Titanic, which came out in 1997. (Jurassic Park reached that milestone during its 3D re-release, making it the oldest film to have earned $1 billion.) However, Titanic didn’t usher in a new age of $1 billion movies; in fact, it wouldn’t be till 2002 that another film, The Return of the King, earned $1 billion during its initial run. (A 3D re-release helped The Phantom Menace over that mark.) It wasn’t until 2007 that $1 billion movies became a yearly occurrence and 23 films have hit that milestone since then.

The peak year for $1 billion movies was last year when five films topped that mark. This includes a record three such films from Universal. At the time, this could have been described as a once-in-a-decade domination of the box office. However, two things happened. Firstly, The Force Awakens came out at the end of the year and became the biggest hit of the year and the second $1 billion movie for Disney. Universal’s performance, while record-breaking was no longer truly dominating, as Disney was relatively close behind. Then this year happened.

So far in 2016, there have been three $1 billion movies and all of them have been released by Disney. This ties the record for most $1 billion films in a single year by a single studio. Furthermore, the only film coming out during the rest of the year that is practically guaranteed to reach $1 billion is also from Disney. To be more specific, the first film to hit $1 billion this year was Zootopia, which is a Walt Disney Animation Studios film; Finding Dory is a Pixar film and Disney bought Pixar in 2006; Civil War is a Marvel movie and Disney bought Marvel in 2009; and finally the one that is nearly guaranteed to hit $1 billion is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Disney bought LucasFilm in 2012. (There are rumors that Disney is interested in buying Twitter. Everyone at Twitter is likely praying those rumors are true.) So not only is Disney dominating the box office like no studio has in a decade or more, it is doing so with every major subsidiary chipping in.

As for the near future or $1 billion movies, there are four more films with a measurable potential to reach $1 billion worldwide. ... Three of them are being released by Disney. Those films are, in order of chances to reach $1 billion...

  1. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - Not only is this film widely expected to reach $1 billion worldwide, it is widely expected to become the biggest hit of the year. Expectations range from just over $1 billion to nearly $1.5 billion.
  2. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - The first new film in the Harry Potter franchise in five years. The last such film, Deathly Hallows: Part II, earned $1.34 billion. Inflation and the growth of markets like China should give this film a easy route to $1 billion; however, the buzz just isn’t where it needs to be. Without Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the franchise just isn’t the same. That said, $900 million is still an excellent run and with a push from the studio it could get to the $1 billion mark.
  3. Mona - A 3D animated family film opening on Thanksgiving long weekend. This aptly describes Frozen and that film earned close to $1.3 billion. Then again, it also describes The Good Dinosaur and that film is the only Pixar movie to lose money. At the moment, the buzz is good, but not good enough that I would predict $1 billion and it won’t even have Christmas to itself, as families will be checking out Sing. I think it will be a monster hit with $800 million and if the buzz grows, so should the film’s box office potential.
  4. Doctor Strange - The latest in the MCU. Because it is the first focused on magic, and because it doesn’t have such a good release date, it is not expected to do as well as the recent, more grounded Civil War. In fact, many think it won’t do as well as Guardians of the Galaxy. On the other hand, it will very likely top Ant-Man. I think it will be very near the high end of that range and I’m going with $750 million. It has a 1% chance of cracking $1 billion, but the MCU has been unstoppable lately, so I’m unwilling to dismiss its chances completely.
If these predictions are correction, then Disney will have the five biggest hits of the year, four of which will be $1 billion hits. We likely won’t see this kind of domination again.

Filed under: Analysis, Harry Potter, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson