- Disney is releasing 10 movies this year.
- Half of them have the potential to gross at least $1 billion, including “Avengers: Endgame,” “Toy Story 4,” and “Frozen 2.”
- If it happens, Disney would break the all-time box-office record for a single movie studio in one year.
With four hugely-anticipated sequels and remakes of three beloved animated classics, at least half of Disney’s movies out this year have the potential to gross $1 billion at theaters worldwide. Crossing $1 billion at the box office isn’t easy. Only 37 movies have done it in history.
But Disney has so many potential big hits on its hands that the studio could very well break the all-time box-office record for a single movie studio in one year. Disney currently holds the previous record with $7.6 billion after its 2016 run with huge performances from “Captain America: Civil War,” “Finding Dory,” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”
From “Avengers: Endgame” to another “Star Wars” movie, INSIDER breaks down which movies should bring in at least $1 billion this year for Disney and what hurdles each film may face to reach those record numbers.
“Avengers: Endgame” could cross the $2 billion mark.
Release date: Friday, April 26, 2019
“Avengers: Infinity War” box office haul: Over $2 billion
Why it could make over $2 billion at the box office: The real question isn’t whether or not “Avengers: Endgame” will make $1 billion. It’s whether or not this movie will cross $2 billion or even $2.5 billion.
Every other “Avengers” movie has crossed $1.4 billion at the box office. Last year’s “Infinity War” was the first in the franchise to end on a true cliffhanger and you better believe that people want to know how Tony Stark and the remaining heroes are going to reverse the effects of Thanos’ life-altering snap. “Endgame” will have the advantage of coming out the exact same weekend that “Infinity War” did last year so it has the best shot at having a repeat run at theaters.
Read more: Who survived and was lost in the Thanos snap
“The Lion King” has a massive built-in audience.
Release date: Friday, July 19, 2019
Total box-office haul of the 1994 Oscar-winning animated movie: $968 million (including theatrical re-releases)
Why it’s probably going to cross $1 billion: 2016’s adaptation of “The Jungle Book,” a film which is arguably far from Disney’s most popular, was essentially a test to see if director Jon Favreau could make CG animals work in a jungle and he seamlessly pulled it off to the tune of $966 million at theaters. Now, “The Lion King” is in his very capable hands.
Fans were blown away by how closely the first trailer for Disney’s remake resembled the original movie. It became the third-most watched trailer in 24 hours ever behind “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame.” “Infinity War” grossed over $2 billion.
If you were to look at a list of all the animated movies Disney is remaking, other than “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King” is the most bankable of them all. There’s a reason both classics were Disney’s most successful Broadway adaptations.
Though it’s not on this list, if “Aladdin” is good enough of a film, I wouldn’t be surprised if that gets near a $1 billion worldwide as well.
Read more: The actors cast in “The Lion King” remake
Delays could cause “Toy Story 4” not to reach $1 billion.
Release date: June 21, 2019
“Toy Story 3” box-office haul: $1 billion
Why it may join the $1 billion club: “Toy Story” is Pixar’s most valuable property. The first three films are beloved and, what was thought to be, the last film in the trilogy grossed over $1 billion. We’re not bothered that the sequel is out eight years after “Toy Story 3.” The anticipation may help it perform better.
Pixar recently released “Incredibles 2,” a sequel 14 years after the first film and it grossed over $1.2 billion at theaters in 2018. That was also a very good movie. Time will tell if Pixar can make four good “Toy Story” movies.
What could prevent it from crossing that benchmark: Multiple delays.
“Toy Story 4” was first announced in 2014 by former chief creative officer of Disney Animation and Pixar, John Lasseter, for a 2017 release. Since then, it has been delayed twice.
No one needed a fourth “Toy Story” movie. The third one ended neatly, closing out Woody’s story with his owner Andy. The big selling point of a fourth “Toy Story” was that the original director, Lasseter, was returning to tell a personal story inspired by his own love story with his wife. It would translate to a story between Woody and Bo-Peep.
In 2015, a co-director was added to the film, Josh Cooley. And then Lasseter left the company in 2018 after a six-month sabbatical following “missteps” that left some employees “disrespected or uncomfortable.” The real question is whether or not a “Toy Story” movie can be successful without its original director overseeing the final product.
It’s uncertain whether or not his departure from the company changed the film’s story at all. Actress Annie Potts, who voices Bo Peep, told Radio Times Pixar “threw out three-quarters” of the script to rewrite it. Replacing Lasseter is Josh Cooley, who has only directed two shorts for Pixar: “Riley’s First Date?” and “George and A.J.“
“Frozen 2” could shatter box office records just like the first film.
Release date: Friday, November 22, 2019
“Frozen” box office haul: $1.2 billion
Why it should hit $1 billion in theory: The first film shattered box-office records by becoming the highest-grossing animated movie in history, so there are some big expectations for “Frozen 2.” In theory, the sequel has all of the ingredients of the first film to replicate its success. The main cast and directors are back along with the Oscar-winning songwriting team of husband and wife Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.
The only thing holding it back: Itself.
Has “Frozen” fever died down since the original 2013 movie? Not completely. There’s a popular Broadway musical which debuted last year, a ride at Epcot with long wait times, and a Frozen expansion is coming to Disneyland Tokyo where the movie was a big hit, grossing over $250 million.
Despite all that, the last time Disney tried to put out something “Frozen”-related, it backfired. Parents weren’t expecting a nearly-30 minute “Frozen” short in front of screenings for Pixar’s “Coco” and some audience members criticized the studio for having the short play in front of Pixar’s first feature film to focus on a non-white protagonist.
“Star Wars: Episode IX” is shrouded in mystery.
Release date: Friday, December 20, 2019
“The Last Jedi” box-office haul: $1.3 billion
Why it should hit $1 billion in theory: If “Episode IX” doesn’t hit $1 billion, it will be the first film in the new trilogy to not hit that mark. Even spinoff “Rogue One” crossed $1 billion.
After the divisive “The Last Jedi,” Lucasfilm went the safe route by bringing back “The Force Awakens” director J.J. Abrams to bring the final film in the Skywalker saga to the big screen. Fans of Carrie Fisher will want to come to see her final appearance in a “Star Wars” movie with unused footage from “Episode VII.”
The still untitled “Episode IX” will also have the advantage of launching around the 2019 holidays. Christmas day is one of the biggest box-office days in the United States.
What could prevent it from hitting that milestone: Itself.
No one knows better than Disney that it may have released “Solo” too quickly after the mixed response to “The Last Jedi.” In its most recent 10K filing with the SEC, Disney noted that “Star Wars” merchandise had a decrease in sales in the past year. It’s little surprise Disney is slowing down its output of “Star Wars” spinoffs. One casualty was a reported Boba Fett movie, which is no longer happening.
If “Episode IX” isn’t a big success, Disney may rethink its “Star Wars” strategy more. One possible fix could be for the Mouse House to start alternating future December releases between “Star Wars” and the “Avatar” movies it will be acquiring once the Fox deal is sealed.
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