Is Disney Poised to Defeat the Street?

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Hollywood's had a long history of profiting from epic adventures. If the early enthusiasm I'm seeing for The Avengers is any indicator, Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) will be the latest to cash in.

The Avengers has already taken in some $281 million at the international box office ahead of this weekend's U.S. debut. What's more, I'm writing from a fast-filling movie theater that's showing what's called the "Ultimate Marvel Movie Marathon" -- six films in a row, closing with the midnight premiere of the new film.

Starring Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, The Avengers is the culmination of a series that began with the $300 million hit Iron Man in 2008 . The idea? Bring to the big screen the sorts of multi-issue, long-serial storylines that have long made comic books popular.

The formula is working so far. In July, Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) will reboot the Spider-Man franchise. I've enjoyed the previews so far, and given history -- aside from Christopher Nolan's take on Batman, the Spidey films are the top-grossing comic-book adaptations of all time -- there's likely to be an eager audience for the film, which stars Andrew Garfield as Marvel's favorite wall crawler.

Yet the concept isn't necessarily transportable. Time Warner (NYSE: TWX  ) took a hit when last summer's Green Lantern bombed at the box office and in the process failed to establish the necessary beachhead that could have led to new films featuring more minor DC characters such as The Flash and Hawkman, and ultimately, an epic featuring The Justice League -- DC Entertainment's answer to The Avengers.

But that's DC. Marvel Studios isn't having the same issues, and Disney, wisely, is giving the division plenty of creative room as a result. The Avengers are assembling this weekend. Don't be surprised if, like these similarly epic world-dominating stocks, Disney punishes analyst estimates as a result.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers owns more than 2,000 comic books and is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Disney and Time Warner at the time of publication. Check out Tim's Web home, portfolio holdings, and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google+ or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney and Sony and has created a bear call spread position in Sony. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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Related Tickers

10/27/2016 4:02 PM
DIS $94.02 Up +0.53 +0.57%
Walt Disney CAPS Rating: *****
SNE $31.53 Down -0.31 -0.97%
Sony CAPS Rating: ***
TWX $88.30 Down -0.40 -0.45%
Time Warner CAPS Rating: ***