The Chinese box office has bailed out plenty of Hollywood movies that struggled domestically, like “Warcraft” and “Pacific Rim” — and a different sort of Chinese box office helped Disney make up for big drops at its media networks and film studio when the Mouse House reported first-quarter earnings.
After markets closed Tuesday, Disney reported year-over-year declines in its studio entertainment, media networks and consumer products divisions. But the one branch that saved the day was parks and resorts — particularly Shanghai Disneyland Park.
Disney’s parks and resorts division saw a 6 percent increase in revenue compared with the same period the previous year, while operating income jumped 13 percent to $1.1 billion, even as Hurricane Matthew took a bite out of Walt Disney World visits. That’s because Shanghai Disneyland Park has packed in visitors since opening its doors in June, with Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger telling analysts on the company’s post-earnings call that the China park was at “full capacity” during the just-completed Chinese New Year holiday.
“With the year’s two peak seasons now behind us, we have welcomed more than 7 million guests to date,” Iger said on the call, speculating that the theme park could conceivably bring in more than 10 million during its first year of operation.”
And with Disney’s TV business struggling — its cable networks, mainly ESPN, reported an 11 percent decline in operating income — it needs all the help it can get from the Middle Kingdom’s Magic Kingdom.