Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) has always been a company built on intellectual property (IP). It all started with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and friends and has grown to encompass the Marvel Universe, Star Wars, Pixar, and even more animated characters.
That's a content library that none of its rivals can match. It gives the company a built-in edge at the box office, on television, in its theme parks, and across consumer licensing. In 2019, that IP advantage is going to be more evident than it ever has been.
A huge box office slate
In many ways, the Disney dominance starts at the box office. Hit films establish characters to a wide audience, and those characters can then be spread out to sequels, spinoffs, TV shows, theme park rides, and more. For 2019, the company has seven of the 10 entries on Fandango's list of most-anticipated movies. That's a stellar achievement that's built around the company's IP, as seen in the Disney films that made the list:
- Avengers: Endgame (1)
- Captain Marvel (2)
- Star Wars Episode IX (3)
- Toy Story 4 (5)
- The Lion King (7)
- Aladdin (8)
- Dumbo (9)
That's seven potential smashes, and the list doesn't even include November's Frozen 2, a sure hit whose young audience doesn't have a high awareness it's coming.
Beyond the box office
The coming year has two major non-film releases for Disney. The first, the launch of Star Wars-themed lands in its Florida and California theme parks, both called Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, should drive record-setting attendance. In fact, there are strong signs that a lot of people put off Disney vacations in 2018 to be able to visit once these two lands open.
The launch of the Star Wars lands will have a ripple effect beyond the affected parks of Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios. They will add attendance at the company's other theme parks, as most visitors will be taking vacations and will buy multi-day passes.
In addition to the new Star Wars attractions, 2019 will also bring the Disney+ streaming service. The product will be built around Disney IP, with multiple Marvel, Star Wars, and Disney animated properties anchoring the service. That gives the company a solid chance to take on Netflix, something no other content company can easily do.
Star Wars and Marvel alone are enormous draws with huge fan bases. Add all of the other content Disney can bring that will have kids demanding their parents add Disney+, and you can see how the service is almost guaranteed to have a strong launch.
It all builds
Each of the highly anticipated films Disney will debut can be leveraged beyond the box office. Eventually, they'll all end up on Disney+, which will help that service grow as it builds on its film content library.
Most of the movie franchises on the list already have a presence at the company's theme parks. Disney can profit off the higher profiles the new films create simply by adding meet-and-greets with the characters or adding live shows -- two things it has used often to keep its parks fresh without spending a lot of money.
Disney should smash box office records in 2019, but the impact of its impressive film slate will drive revenue across the entire company. That's an impact that will be felt not just in 2019 but for years -- and in some cases decades -- to come.