LOS ANGELES: The thunderous success of Thor : Ragnarok has helped Walt Disney Studios become the first distributor in history to hit $5 billion in annual global box office sales three times, it said Thursday.
The superhero movie — made by Disney's Marvel subsidiary — is on the verge of surpassing $800 million worldwide, putting the company's haul for 2017 at $1.8 billion in North America and $3.2 billion abroad.
It is the third year in a row that the entertainment giant has passed the $5-billion benchmark, with Star Wars: The Last Jedi — its sure-fire biggest hit — not due in theatres for another two weeks.
Last year was the first in which all five of Walt Disney Studios' top brands — Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, and Lucasfilm — released movies, giving the company an industry-first $7 billion box office.
Much of Disney's success this year has been due to its live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast — the highest grossing film worldwide in 2017 with $1.3 billion.
It has been a record year for Marvel, which is celebrating its first hat-trick of $100 million-plus domestic openings — kicked off in May by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and followed a month later bySpider-Man: Homecoming.
Those two films also passed $800 million worldwide, making the trifecta (including Thor) a first for Marvel, with the parent company expected to account for half of the top 10 highest grossing films of 2017.
Pixar's Coco netted $72.9 million for the five-day Thanksgiving period and is approaching $180 million worldwide, while late 2016 releases Moana andRogue One: A Star Wars Story bumped up 2017 takings by $561 million.
The Last Jedi — which hits theatres on December 15 — is widely expected to have the top domestic opening weekend of the year and cross the $1 billion mark.
The Walt Disney Company — the world's second-largest media conglomerate behind Comcast — surprised investors earlier this month by missing Wall Street expectations for fourth-quarter revenue and earnings.
But the company is expecting to bounce back as it expands its Star Wars franchise with a new trilogy and live-action TV series and introduces streaming services to rival Netflix and Amazon