It’s no secret that Disney was in full control of the summer blockbuster season. But now that summer’s done, the final domestic box office numbers show just how dominant Disney was.
Of the $4.31 billion grossed from the first weekend of May through Labor Day weekend, $1.83 billion came from movies distributed by Disney. That’s a market share of 42%, up from an already strong 33% last year.
Keep in mind that these figures don’t factor in the record-obliterating opening week of “Avengers: Endgame,” which hit theaters on April 26 and grossed $537 million at the domestic box office before the summer season “officially” began. If that week of box office grosses is included, the overall summer total increases to $4.84 billion, and Disney’s share increases to 47% with $1.83 billion.
Disney’s strong performance had been expected for a long time. Between “Endgame,” “Toy Story 4,” and remakes of “Aladdin” and “The Lion King,” the studio had been expected to blow by the industry records it has set over the past few years. By the end of July, Disney’s global grosses for 2019 already passed the $7.67 billion record it had set in 2018.
But its strong market share also came from a lack of major blockbuster competitors from other studios. Summer 2018 had hits like Universal’s “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” and multiple mid-budget, $100 million-plus hits from Warner Bros. like “Crazy Rich Asians” to complement the mega-hits Disney was putting out.
Warner Bros.’ big blockbuster “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” did not meet the $200 million total of the studio’s 2014 “Godzilla” with just $110 million grossed. And while Universal has found solid success with “Secret Life of Pets 2” and the Fast & Furious spinoff “Hobbs & Shaw,” neither film provided the $300 million-plus jolt to overall totals that previous installments in their respective franchises did.
Behind Disney, the studio with the second largest market share this summer was Sony, thanks in large part to the now-terminated partnership it had with Disney and Marvel Studios. The final film in that partnership, “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” is the only film among the top five highest grossing movies of this summer that wasn’t produced by Disney, grossing $385 million domestically and becoming Sony’s highest grossing film ever with over $1.1 billion worldwide.
Add the rest of the slate led by the $131 million grossed by Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and Sony’s market share sits at 14.6% with $632 million grossed.
The 2020 summer slate is expected to be a big drop from the highs of 2018 and 2019, simply because Disney won’t be putting out an “Avengers” movie or a sequel to a beloved Pixar franchise. They will still be a big factor though, as Marvel Studios will kick off the season with the long-awaited “Black Widow,” while Pixar will return to making original films with the cosmic jazz odyssey “Soul.”
Meanwhile, the rest of Hollywood will have a chance to reduce the market share disparity we’ve seen this summer. Warner Bros. in particular is in a strong position next year with “Wonder Woman 1984” and Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” packing the one-two punch of a superhero sequel and an auteur-driven original title that Sony brought this year.