This year saw Disney and Comcast (the largest broadcasting and cable company in the world by revenue) go head-to-head in the land of the movies to score the biggest blockbuster hits. But who came out on top?
Comcast and the Walt Disney Company, the world’s largest two media conglomerates, are locked in perpetual battle for movie box office ‘bragging rights’ and it looks as if Comcast, the largest broadcasting and cable company in the world by revenue, has managed to score the all-important summer movie hits required to come out on top.
Huge successes such as Jurassic World – which reached the $1bn box office milestone less than two weeks after its June US release and shot past the $1.5bn barrier – and the unexpectedly huge success of the latest Fast and Furious sequel, Furious 7, which grossed $1.52bn, gave the Philadelphia-based media, broadcasting and communications giant a 2015 victory.
Beyond the box office
The other great news for Comcast, producing films through its Universal Pictures division, is that these titles present massive merchandising opportunities so have a life well beyond the box office. This isn’t uncommon – everyone remembers the strength of the Jurassic Park brand back when the 1993 original was released and the wealth of toys, models and merchandise it inspired.
It’s clear that with the success of Jurassic World, this rich revenue-generating seam can be mined again and again as the movie-going public clearly has an appetite for dinosaur-related epics even more than 20 years since the original.
There again, Disney can look forward to similar gains from its Star Wars franchise. In the 35-plus years since the original, enthusiasm for the George Lucas brainchild doesn’t appear to be waning and the corporation can look forward to likely huge revenues from the next release.
For both Comcast and Disney, the large chunk of their revenue doesn’t stem from box office takings. In Comcast’s case it was some 7% of their gross turnover in their last fiscal year whereas for Disney the figure is around 15%.
Both companies are in very good financial shape. Chris Beauchamp, a senior market analyst at spread betting company IG said of Disney: “Its decent valuation and strong financial firepower means that it stands out [against other film companies]”.
Disney denied when in pole position
As the summer blockbuster season got underway, it looked as if Disney was heading for box office victory led by Avengers: Age of Ultron, from its Marvel subsidiary, shaping to be the highest-grossing movie of 2015 ably supported by Inside Out and Tomorrowland.
When one considers the power of the Marvel franchise leading up to the release of Ultron and the fact that each sequel in the series that makes up the overall Avengers universe has bettered the box office performance of its predecessor, it looked like a cast iron win for Disney.
As it happened, Ultron didn’t quite hit the heights – even though it reached the $1.5bn mark – and Tomorrowland too failed to achieve its potential. By contrast, for Comcast the performance of Furious 7 far exceeded expectations.
No cause for concern?
While executives at Comcast might be breaking open the Champagne, Disney is unlikely to mope too much. After all Ultron was still very profitable, and the company’s stable of strong franchises with the newly acquired Star Wars franchise ready to roll again after a hiatus of ten years should see plenty of money change hands at box offices worldwide for the House of Mouse. It may have been behind this year, but you certainly wouldn’t bet against it coming out on top next time around.