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Will the Dream Run for U.S. Box Office Continue in 2019?

Ritujay Ghosh
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Global box office revenues are set to hit an all-time high of $41.7 billion, with domestic totals projected to top out at $11.9 billion, per comScore. This is also one of the few years in recent history when the United States drove the growth spurt against international revenues. It goes without saying that it has been a great year for domestic movie theaters after a dismal 2017.

Footfalls at movie theaters have been relatively stable over the past three decades but a spate of hits in 2018 is likely to make it a record year for the box office. And The Walt Disney Company DIS once again is leading the race, with superhero films stealing the show. 

Box Office Set for Record 2018

Per comScore, domestic box office totals passed $11.38 billion in the week ended Dec 21 and are likely to cross $11.9 billion in 2018. If comScore’s projections hold, this will be a 7% increase over last year and a 4.5% increase over the record set in 2016. Domestic box office revenues totaled $11.4 billion in 2016.

Also, global box office revenues are expected to hit an all-time high of $41.7 billion. Interestingly, while overseas growth has been responsible for global annual totals over the last few decades, growth in 2018 came largely from robust growth in domestic moviegoing.

The U.S. box office witnessed one of its worst times in decades in 2017 and analysts had started penning obituaries after domestic ticket sales declined 2.3% last year. Interestingly, the turnaround comes at a time when movie theatres are facing increasing competition from online streaming giants like Netflix, Inc. NFLX and Amazon.com, Inc.’s AMZN Amazon Prime.

Disney Leads the Race With Superhero Films

Disney, which is set to acquire Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc.’s FOXA, is once again leading the race this year, with 27% of the domestic market share. As of Dec 23, AT&T, Inc.’s T Warner Bros’ commands the second position with 15.5% of the domestic market share. Universal Pictures, owned by Comcast Corporation CMCSA, and Sony Pictures Entertainment, a division of Sony Corporation of America SNE, hold the third and fourth place with 15.3% and 10.7%, respectively.

Interestingly, this year’s domestic box office success was driven by a spate of big-ticket superhero and franchise films. All five top-grossing films domestically this year were superhero films. And Disney once again stole the show. The three top-earning films — Marvel’s Black Panther (700 million), Avengers: Infinity War ($678.8 million) and Incredibles 2 ($608.6 million) — all come from Disney’s stable.

Universal’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom holds the fourth spot, raking in $416.8 million, while Fox’s Deadpool 2 holds the fifth spot, grossing $318.5 million. Overall, there were nine superhero films released this year, which grossed $2.9 billion combined, accounting for 25.5% of total ticket sales. Sony has a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), while Disney, Fox, Netflix, Amazon and Comcast each carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Understandably, franchise and superhero films have once again helped the domestic box office. At the same time, it also proves that the appeal for theatrical movie-viewing experience hasn’t faded at a time when streaming giants are giving film studios tough competition.

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