Disney Wins Summer Box Office With Over $2.5 Billion Haul

The Walt Disney Company will win the summer box office race that ends with Labor Day next weekend, [...]

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The Walt Disney Company will win the summer box office race that ends with Labor Day next weekend, pulling in over $2.56 billion at theaters around the world this year. The summer at cinemas extends to the start of the month of May (though in recent years blockbuster tentpole films have moved into April and even March), and Disney won this year's with ease. Universal and Warner Bros., of the six major studios, will come in a very close second and third with around $1.9 billion each.

Disney's victory comes largely on the back of just two of their releases this summer, both highly anticipated sequels. Despite some assertion from Hollywood press that sequels are killing the box office, they seem to be largely making a killing at the box office this year. Captain America: Civil War, which featured most of the Avengers characters fans have grown to love over the course of Marvel Studios' thirteen film franchise so far, grossed $1.152 billion worldwide and Finding Dory from fellow powerhouse brand Pixar pulled in $929.1 million. That means those two films alone have beaten every other major studio's entire summer.

It's not all good news for Disney (or for sequels) though, as Alice Through the Looking Glass made just $294.48 million worldwide on a $170 million production budget (factor in a pricey PR campaign on top of that, which included Johnny Depp doing a virtual in-character appearance at Walt Disney World, and they didn't even break even). News was worse for Steven Spielberg's The BFG, earning $153.6 million on a $140 million budget. There's still hope for Pete's Dragon, their final major release of the summer, which has yet to open in several foreign markets, and thus is too recent to judge.

Warner Bros. landed three films in the top ten for the summer, with their top performer by far being Suicide Squad. The film drew derision from critics, but fan support made it a hit, coming in at #4 in domestic box office, and #5 worldwide ($636 million) this season. The Legend of Tarzan and Central Intelligence rounded out WB's top ten offerings, while horror films from sub-brand New Line Cinema The Conjuring 2 and Lights Out far out-performed expectations.

Universal rode the success of The Secret Life of Pets and while Jason Bourne didn't perform quite as well as they would've liked for Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass's returns to the franchise, it did well enough. The Purge: Election Year, another sequel in the horror/action genre, massively out kicked its coverage with $105 million worldwide on a reported budget of just $10 million.

Rounding out the major studios, in order of success, were Fox, Sony, and Paramount. X-Men: Apocalypse was Fox's top performer, and did fine, staying at third in the franchise in worldwide gross, but a disappointing $230 million less than the previous team film, Days of Future Past. Sony's summer was saved by animation, with The Angry Birds Movie and recent hit Sausage Party plus some strong low-budget horror offerings picking up the slack where Ghostbusters, their only tentpole release of the summer let them down. Paramount comes in last of the majors this summer, with Star Trek Beyond yet to open in a few major overseas markets, but still coming in slower than Into Darkness the previous franchise film. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows underperformed as well, though it did pull in a big 66% of its total in foreign markets.

This all led us to a summer season that was the #2 all time in domestic markets (North America) with $4.5 billion in the states, under only 2013 ($4.8 billion), but also with its share of high-profile bombs. The fall kicks off with a fairly modest expected September and October, before a November and December with several major releases, expected again to be led by Disney. With films from Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and Lucasfilm spread out every three weeks starting the first weekend of November, the House of Mouse should close out the year the way they've started it: total domination.

All figures according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.