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Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Development: Disney sets domestic box office record; Warner Bros wins the RatPac Dune library; Roku levels up

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Jan 2, 2019

Disney didn't just have an incredible 2018 at the movies — it has now set the all-time domestic record. They can thank the Kingdom of Wakanda, the Avengers, and the Incredibles for their assistance.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the Mouse House took in $3.092 billion in 2018, domestically. Worldwide, they banked $7.325 billion, which is the second-highest total ever, coming in right behind 2016's take of $7.605 billion.

Disney remains the only studio ever to make over $7 billion in one year. Their Marvel Studios definitely played a part, as Avengers: Infinity War took in $2.049 billion globally, Black Panther delivered $1.347 billion, and Ant-Man and the Wasp made $623.1 million.

Even without the Marvel brand, superheroes managed to contribute to Disney's bottom line in the form of Pixar's Incredibles 2, which undermined $1.24 billion worldwide. Sequels Ralph Breaks the Internet and Mary Poppins Returns assisted as well. As did Solo: A Star Wars Story, which took in a global $393.6 million — and though that's low for a film with Star Wars in the title, it's not a lousy stack of credits.

This record comes as the studio supreme looks to a jam-packed 2019, with three Marvel movies coming out (Captain Marvel, Spider-Man: Far From Home, and Avengers: Endgame), as well as three of the studio's very lucrative live-action adaptations of its animated library: Dumbo, The Lion King, and Aladdin. On the animated front they're gonna let it go with Frozen 2 as well as Pixar's Toy Story 4, and then December will see Star Wars: Episode IX explode onto screens. The final entry in the Skywalker saga (though not the final Star Wars movie, not by a long shot) is about as sure a box-office bet as there can possibly be. Carol Danvers, Peter Parker, the Avengers, Elsa and Anna, the Genie, Mufasa, Rey, Finn, and the ghost of Luke Skywalker all in one year... how can anybody compete with that?

This would be a highly exciting 2019 by any standards, but when you take into account Disney's acquisition of Fox possibly closing in 2019 as well, we could be looking at Mickey and the gang setting up shop on top of the record books for countless years to come.


Speaking of money, Warner Bros. co-financed several films with RatPac Dune Entertainment, a company run by Brett Ratner and (formerly) James Packer. This gave them the right to match any winning bids in attempts to gain control of the films in the RatPac Dune library, which they have now done.

According to Deadline, Warner has bought the library, which includes 15-25% of 76 big-budget films that it co-financed with RatPac. Vine Alternative Investments had made a bid in the $290-300 million range, with Deadline reporting "the one caveat was that Warner Bros reserved the right to match." That caveat has now become a reality.

The "percentage of ownership in the films" wasn't as high as they normally are, but the library was a reportedly hot commodity anyway because of some of the titles involved. Minority stakes in Gravity, Wonder Woman, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, The LEGO Movie, Creed, Godzilla, Dunkirk, and Mad Max: Fury Road are just some examples of the riches included.

Warner Bros. ended its slate funding with RatPac Dune earlier this year... before that, they had a toe in almost every Warner project aside from the Harry Potter franchiseWhy buy the library now, when all of the films included are long past the point where they'd be shown theatrically? They are all huge titles that "create revenue reliably," Deadline states. The library was projected to generate as much as $60 million-$80 million annually for the next five years — Warner will now hold on to the rights for good, taking in all of the revenue (and holding the copyrights) in perpetuity.

No word as to what this might mean for WarnerMedia's upcoming streaming service.


Finally today, the Roku Channel is set to start offering what they are calling "premium subscriptions." The channel, which automatically comes loaded on Roku streaming devices, lets viewers watch certain movies and shows (with ads) for free, and will now start adding subscriptions for premium programming.

According to Deadline, later this month customers will be able to subscribe to Showtime, Starz, Epix, and "22 other premium channels" via the Roku Channel. They'll be able to pay for it all on one bill, and able to access the programming through a Roku player, a Roku-powered TV, online, or through an app that will soon be released.

The downside here is that these channels will only be accessible through the Roku Channel — subscribers won't be able to use separate apps for channels like Showtime or Starz. Also of note, HBO is nowhere to be seen here. Bad news for Roku-owning fans of Westworld, but great news for Roku owners wondering how they'll be able to catch American Gods when it returns to Starz.


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