Universal dethrones Disney, tops yearend box office after 8 years

Kristofer Purnell - Philstar.com
Universal dethrones Disney, tops yearend box office after 8 years
Scenes from "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" and "Oppenheimer"
Universal Pictures

MANILA, Philippines — Universal Pictures was the highest-grossing film studio of 2023 because of movies, such as "Oppenheimer" and "The Super Mario Bros. Movie," dominating cinemas.

This is the studio's first time at the top spot since 2015, when it made $6.9 billion (P383 billion) as Disney — through originals, Pixar, Marvel and "Star Wars" content — dominated the past eight years (excluding the pandemic years).

Twenty-four (24) movies released by Universal, which also include horror flicks "M3GAN," "Cocaine Bear," "Five Nights at Freddy's" and "The Exorcist: Believer," collected $4.907 billion (P272 billion) globally, trumping Disney's 17 films that brought in $4.827 billion (P268 billion).

Disney, however, pointed out that it put out seven less movies but still had the most titles in the highest-grossing global releases list with four.

None of those four were in the Top 3, a first in quite a while for the film outfit, as the spots went to "Barbie" ($1.4 billion or P77.billion) from Warner Bros., "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" ($1.3 billion or P72.1 billion) and "Oppenheimer" ($950 million or P52.7 billion).

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With the exception of the pandemic years, this is the first time since 2014 that no Disney film has reached the billion-dollar mark.

It's only true victory was "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" with $845 million (P46.9 billion) as other Marvel entries, "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" and "The Marvels," failed to reach box office expectations.

Disney films cost a lot of money to make; "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" may have made $476 million (P26.4 billion), good for No. 10 on the highest-grossing global releases list, but it had a budget of $200 million (P11.1 billion).

"The Marvels" had a net gross of $219.8 million (P12.2 billion) on roughly the same budget but needed $439.6 million (P24.4 billion) to break even.

Another failure was "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny," with Harrison Ford reprising the titular character, only making $384 million (P21.3 billion) on a budget of around $300 million (P16.6 billion).

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Universal had its slumps, too, in "Renfield" and "Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken." Even "Fast X" — 2023's fifth biggest movie — barely broke even as it cost $340 million (P18.8 billion) and made $704 million (P39 billion).

Even with "Barbie," Warner Bros. was a far third-placer with $3.84 billion (P213 billion) globally, added on by the likes of "Wonka" and "The Nun II."

In fourth was Sony with $2.094 billion (P116 billion), thanks to "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse," "Napoleon" and "Equalizer 3."

Rounding up the Top 5 is the last major studio, Paramount, earning at $2.026 billion (P112 billion) with entries such as "Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One," "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" and "PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie."

For the first time in five years, Lionsgate managed to break the billion-dollar mark collectively, thanks to hits like "John Wick: Chapter 4," "The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" and "Saw X." The former film made $440.1 million (P2.4 billion) globally, the ninth-best film of 2023.

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