We like to make some light-hearted jokes about the Disney corporation ’round these parts—strictly comical suggestions, mind you, like the idea that the Marvel/Star Wars/Pinocchio company is a vast and labyrinthine beast that seeks to suck all human attention, income, and existence into its all-consuming maw, a swirling vortex of brand integration, aggressive corporate acquisitions, and grey and terrible teeth from which no light could possibly escape. All of this is clearly meant in jest, and only a moderate amount of “Please don’t buy us as an afterthought and then pay to have us hurled into the dark recesses of space” fear. Still, it’s hard to deny that the company keeps accomplishing feats that don’t make it look any less like the harbinger of the Content Apocalypse, as when Variety reports today that the company managed to suck up fully a third of all domestic box office revenues in 2019.
This isn’t exactly surprising—Disney had 6 billion-or-better movie releases last year (Captain Marvel, Endgame, Aladdin, Toy Story 4, Frozen 2, and The Lion King)—but it’s still kind of shocking to see the percentages laid out so bluntly; at $3.764 billion in domestic box office, Disney controlled 33.2 percent of all domestic ticket sales in 2019, with its nearest competitor, Warner Bros., coming in at less than half that. (Specifically, 13.7 percent, neck-and-neck with Universal—13.4 percent—and a bit ahead of Sony at 11.9 percent.) That’s a record-setting number, even as overall domestic grosses are down, and it’s a suggestion that the company’s strategy of steadily pumping out Things You’ve Already Heard Of is a winning one. (Even if the latest culmination of that tried-and-true trend, Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, has yet to crack the billion mark.)
Still, it’s an open question of whether the company will be able to keep this pace up, especially now that the Marvel films have entered a between-phase lacuna; Black Widow looks neat and all, but there’s really no chance of it making Endgame money when it comes out on May 1. Other upcoming Disney releases this year include Pixar’s Onward, the Mulan remake, and Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, which will all likely only make a lot of money, rather than the “fucking lot” of money that the corporation has become accustomed to in recent years.