Disney hits $1bn at US box office in record time, but Universal dominates

Walt Disney Statue Michael Sult

Disney has taken $1bn at the US box office in record time for the studio this year, thanks to the success of new Pixar animation Inside Out, which scored a spectacular $91m on its debut last weekend.

The studio passed the mark in 174 days, according to Variety, with hits Avengers: Age of Ultron ($450m) and Cinderella ($199m) also contributing heavily. Disney’s previous record was 188 days.

The studio still has Star Wars: The Force Awakens – the bookies’ favourite to be the year’s highest-grossing movie – to come in 2015, but has also released a number of box-office bombs. The George Lucas-produced Strange Magic, an animated fairy tale set to a pop-music score, was part of the for $4.05bn package that brought Star Wars rights-holder Lucasfilm to the studio in October 2012. It made just $12m in receipts. Futuristic fantasy Tomorrowland, starring George Clooney as an inventor who travels with a teenage girl to a strange utopia, is expected to lose up to $140m.

Disney would usually be expecting a box-office bounce from the release of its second Marvel film of the year, but doubts over Ant-Man persist after original director Edgar Wright was ditched in favour of Peyton Reed, who directed Jim Carrey’s middling Yes Man. Early trailers have also failed to find favour with fans.

Robert Downey Jr and the Avengers: Age of Ultron cast hit back at superhero movie critics – video interview

Disney may be having a banner year thanks to the success of Age of Ultron and Inside Out, but it remains some way short of rival Universal, which passed $1bn in a world-record time of just 165 days this month. It has taken at least $1.245bn in the year to date, thanks to the success of Jurassic World and Fast and Furious 7. Warner Bros, whose biggest US hit so far has been Mad Max: Fury Road, is also closing in on the $1bn mark.

Total US box-office figures for 2015 are already at $5.276bn, with one weekend to go before the halfway mark for the year, suggesting a record annual figure of $11bn could be within reach.

In other Disney news, the studio has settled a copyright lawsuit over its $1.2bn fantasy blockbuster Frozen with the maker of a short film titled The Snowman. Director Kelly Wilson had claimed in 2013 that a trailer for the animated musical featuring key character Olaf used a “substantially similar” sequence of events to those depicted in her work. The suit in federal court has been settled for an undisclosed amount as the studio prepares to move forward with a sequel.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Ben Child, for theguardian.com on Friday 26th June 2015 13.26 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010