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Disney's Marvel boom is far from over

Daniel Roberts
Senior Writer

Disney stock (DIS) hit a new all-time-high on Monday of $142.37 and JPMorgan raised its price target to $150, after “Avengers: Endgame” smashed the record for the biggest ever opening weekend at the global box office.

The fourth “Avengers” movie brought in $1.2 billion globally in ticket sales, with $350 million at the U.S. box office, leapfrogging the $258 million record set by its predecessor, “Avengers: Infinity War.” Before “Infinity War,” the U.S. opening weekend record was held by “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

In fact, nine of the top 10 biggest U.S. opening weekends ever were Disney franchises. Six were Marvel movies, and four of those six were “Avengers” movies.

And while “Endgame” represents the end of the current “Avengers” series as we know it, this is by no means the end of the Marvel bonanza for the Mouse House. Sequels, prequels, and spin-offs are coming. The latest movie perfectly sets up multiple storylines for the Marvel movies slated to come next, and for the Marvel original series slated for Disney+ when it launches on Nov. 12.

Graphic by David Foster/Yahoo Finance

As Variety executive editor Brent Lang points out, “Avengers: Endgame” should have a vibrant second life in streaming after the box office. “It’s a huge shot in the arm for Disney+,” Lang says, “because it can legitimately say, ‘We’re going to have this title that everybody loves and we’re going to have it exclusively.’”

In addition to being the exclusive home for all Marvel movies from 2018 and on, Disney+ at launch will have at least three Marvel live-action original shows: “Falcon and Winter Soldier,” “WandaVision,” and “Loki.” All three of those series are set up by the events that unfold in “Avengers: Endgame,” which is a savvy way for Disney to keep existing Marvel fans as well as lure potential new fans who may have missed out on the 22-movie Marvel Cinematic Universe, but could see these shows as a fresh opportunity to begin following the franchise.

On the box office side, Disney has already announced a slew of sequels and prequels for the next few years: “Spider-Man: Far From Home” in 2019; “Dark Phoenix” (an X-Men movie starring Sophie Turner from “Game of Thrones”) in 2019; “Black Panther 2;” “Guardians of the Galaxy 3;” “Doctor Strange 2” and more.

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR HASBRO, INC. - A demonstrator at the Hasbro, Inc. showroom showcases the MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES BLACK PANTHER HELMET, a 1:1 full-scale premium role play electronic helmet at American International Toy Fair on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision for Hasbro, Inc./AP Images)

MKM Partners wrote in a research note on Monday that “Avengers: Endgame” singlehandedly “breathes new life into the box office.” It is a movie that demands to be seen in theaters, a shared group experience (with lots of loud cheering), and a reminder that reports of the death of the movie theater have been greatly exaggerated. MKM added that “with repeat viewings a $1 billion ultimate gross [in the U.S. alone] appears a reasonable goal.”

Disney acquired Marvel in 2009 for $4 billion. Much like its purchases of Pixar (2006, $7 billion) and Lucasfilm (2012, $4 billion), the deal has paid off many times over and looks brilliant in hindsight. It is part of why CEO Bob Iger earned $65.6 million in salary in 2018.

Daniel Roberts is a senior writer at Yahoo Finance and closely covers Disney. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.

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