Rogue One’s big debut takes Disney past US$7 billion box office receipts for 2016 – a record for Hollywood

Captain America, Finding Dory and Zootopia all break US$1 billion revenue barrier, and Rogue One, which hasn’t yet opened in China, is expected to be bigger than them all

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 December, 2016, 12:02pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 December, 2016, 12:02pm

A huge debut for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has seen Walt Disney Studios become the first distributor in history to hit US$7 billion in annual global box office receipts.

The US$290 million worldwide opening for the Star Wars spin-off puts Disney’s haul for 2016 at US$2.7 billion in North America, also an industry record, and US$4.3 billion elsewhere.

It is the first year in which all five of Walt Disney Studios’ top brands – Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm – have released movies.

“This historic achievement is possible because all of our film studios are bringing their absolute best to the table, telling great stories of all kinds that resonate with audiences across borders, gender and generations,” said Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios.

“These films work because each one has not only something for everyone, but everything for someone. It’s our honour to be able to create these experiences for audiences, and we’re thankful to them for continuing to come out to the theatre with us.”

Even before Rogue One came out, hits such as Finding Dory , Captain America: Civil War and Zootopia ensured the studio had beaten last year’s record US$5.8 billion by the end of October and was comfortably on track to pass the record of US$6.9 billion set by Universal in 2015.

Disney has set several records this year, becoming the fastest studio ever to hit US$2 billion domestically and US$5 billion at the global box office, both in July.

It has not been entirely plain sailing, as Alice Through the Looking Glass and The BFG were deemed commercial flops.

Coastguard drama The Finest Hours also sank without a trace, with Variety magazine reporting that Disney was expecting losses of around US$75 million from the film.

On the other side of the ledger, the studio had three hits in 2016 that passed the illustrious US$1 billion global mark – Captain America (US$1.2 billion), Finding Dory, (US$1.03 billion) and Zootopia (US$1.02 billion).

The Jungle Book made US$967 million, while Star Wars: The Force Awakens , which debuted in December 2015, brought in US$737 million of its US$2.1 billion global take in 2016.

Those five films scored an average 94 per cent rating on RottenTomatoes.com, which aggregates the reviews for all releases.

Rogue One, which is yet to open in the vast Chinese market, is expected to do better than all of these, although much of its global take will come in 2017.