5 Movies Will Help Disney Rule the Box Office in 2014

Fresh off a 2013 company record, Disney will use these five new releases to dominate again in 2014.

Feb 23, 2014 at 9:10AM

In 2013, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) grossed an incredible $1.711 billion in domestic box office receipts, behind only the $1.867 billion achieved by Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) and its subsidiaries.

Disney's total came with the help of just 17 films, of which 10 were actually released during the calendar year. By contrast, Time Warner benefited from a total of 35 movies on the big screen in 2013, 26 of which launched after Jan. 1.

In short, while Disney didn't rule the box office in absolute numbers last year, each of its films packed a significantly bigger punch. So big, in fact, that four of Disney's films made last year's top 10 in Iron Man 3, Monster's University, Frozen, and Oz The Great and Powerful.

And even with no Pixar movies slated for release this year -- the first time that's happened since 2005, by the way -- 2014 should be much the same with 13 new Disney films on their way.

In order of appearance, here are the five I think will perform the best:

1. Muppets Most Wanted

Disney will battle for box office supremecy with Sony, Lions Gate, Time Warner, and DreamWorks Animation

Image source: Disney

With the launch of Muppets Most Wanted on March 21, Disney will unleash everyone's favorite puppets on the big screen for the first time since their namesake movie in late 2011.

But instead of putting them alongside Jason Segel and Amy Adams, this time audiences will enjoy the sarcastic musings of Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, and Tina Fey.

So how might Muppets Most Wanted fare? The 2011 hit took in "just" $88.6 million in the U.S., but also enjoyed a favorable reception overseas to bring its worldwide total to $165.2 million. That might not sound like much, but The Muppets proved more than worth Disney's investment given its modest $45 million budget.

Disney hasn't provided an official budget for Muppets Most Wanted yet, but it seems fair to assume the latest price tag shouldn't be all that much higher. What's more, Muppets Most Wanted arrives a comfortable two weeks after DreamWorks Animation's (NASDAQ:DWA) Mr. Peabody & Sherman, and three weeks before Blue Sky Studios' Rio 2. That should give it plenty of time to rack up the lion's share of its sales with a captive target audience.

Muppets Most Wanted does open the same evening as Lions Gate's (NYSE:LGF) franchise hopeful Divergent, the hype surrounding which could draw away considerable attention.

2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Disney will battle for box office supremecy with Sony, Lions Gate, Time Warner, and DreamWorks Animation

Image source: Disney Marvel

Then on April 4, Disney Marvel is pulling out the big guns with Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

I don't expect this sequel to match the box office heroics of last year's Iron Man 3, which ended as 2013's highest grossing movie with $409 million domestically and $1.215 billion worldwide.

But I do expect Captain America 2 to improve on its $145 million predecessor, which took in just $176.6 million in the U.S. and $370.6 million globally. That makes it the second-lowest grossing movie in the current Marvel Cinematic Universe, ahead of only 2008's The Incredible Hulk

So why I do I think it'll outperform this time? For one, Disney not only upped the ante by spending $25 million more to produce Winter Soldier, but also knows Captain America today enjoys a significantly larger built-in fanbase thanks to the $1.5 billion blockbuster that is The Avengers.

As for Cap's competition, Divergent arrives just two weeks prior, but that won't do much to keep die-hard Marvelites away. Meanwhile, Sony (NYSE:SNE) Pictures' The Amazing Spider-Man 2 won't hit theaters until May 2, once again giving Disney plenty of time to run up the score.

3. Maleficent

Disney will battle for box office supremecy with Sony, Lions Gate, Time Warner, and DreamWorks Animation

Image source: Disney

Next, beginning on May 30, Angelina Jolie will portray one of Disney's most famous antagonists in Maleficent.

Jolie also served as executive producer on set alongside Joe Roth, who most recently lent his producing talents to other successful live-action fairy tale renditions including Disney's Alice in WonderlandComcast Universal's Snow White and the Huntsman, and Oz the Great and Powerful.

Of the three, you can bet Disney would most love to replicate the success of Alice in Wonderland, which ultimately grossed an astounding $1.025 billion worldwide in 2010.

If you're having trouble recalling Maleficent's role in Disney history, perhaps this will refresh your memory:

Maleficent will need to compete with the week-earlier release of Fox's X-Men: Days of Future Past, but something tells me it'll have little trouble approaching Alice's stellar performance if Disney keeps pumping out goosebump-inducing trailers like that.

4. Guardians of the Galaxy

Disney will battle for box office supremecy with Sony, Lions Gate, Time Warner, and DreamWorks Animation

Image source: Disney Marvel

As a Marvel geek myself, I'm most excited about Disney's Aug. 1 debut of Guardians of the Galaxy.

From left to right in the picture above, you're looking at Avatar's Zoe Saldana, Parks and Recreation's Chris Pratt, (the voice of) Bradley Cooper, WWE wrestler Dave Bautista, and -- in a manner of speaking -- Vin Diesel.

Even if Guardians' success seems a foregone conclusion operating in the same universe as The Avengers, it easily contains the strangest set of characters Marvel has attempted to bring to life so far. That's why I argued last month it was time for Disney to really start hyping the film, and why I was happy when its first official trailer was released earlier this week. Even now, the comics world still seems to be in a frenzy.

Guardians' biggest challenge will lie in maintaining its box office momentum in the face of the Aug. 8 release of Viacom Paramount's promising live-action reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. However, similar to Captain America: The Winter Soldier's delayed clash with Divergent, it's hard to imagine TMNT being a significant hurdle for Marvel's latest franchise-to-be. 

5. Big Hero 6

Disney will battle for box office supremecy with Sony, Lions Gate, Time Warner, and DreamWorks Animation

Image source: Disney Animation/Marvel (CONFIRM)

Finally, Disney will introduce yet another Marvel team on Nov. 7 with the debut of Big Hero 6.

Only this time, it'll come from the brilliant minds at Walt Disney Animation Studios, the same group responsible for a little film we know as Frozen.

Unfortunately, details are short with Big Hero 6 still so far away. But Disney has made it clear it will star a robotics prodigy, his closest robot companion, and a "reluctant team of first-time crime fighters" trying to thwart a plot to destroy a high-tech city named San Fransokyo. Most importantly, audiences have been promised it will feature "comic-book style action and all the heart and humor audiences expect from Walt Disney Animation Studios."

On a more worrisome note, Big Hero 6 will need to contend with Lions Gate's The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 opening two weeks later. That still shouldn't be much of a problem, though, if Big Hero 6 can even partially replicate Frozen's incredible staying power, which has resulted in a nearly $1 billion worldwide run since its record-setting launch last November.

The next step for you

I'll be sure to touch base as the year progresses to keep you posted on how these movies are doing. But in the meantime, did you know you could be profiting on business analysis like this?

The key for your future is to turn business insights into portfolio gold through smart and steady investing ... starting right now. Those who wait on the sidelines are missing out on huge gains and putting their financial futures in jeopardy. The Motley Fool is offering a new special report, an essential guide to investing, which includes access to top stocks to buy now. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.

Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends DreamWorks Animation and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

©1995-2014 The Motley Fool. All rights reserved. | Privacy/Legal Information