Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is ready to take off at warp speed to box office records when it opens at theaters this Friday, but the latest surefire blockbuster from Disney (DIS -0.48%) isn't necessary for the entertainment giant to turn 2019 into a massively successful year. 

Disney already has six movies in the can that crossed the billion-dollar box office threshold this year, meaning that even though the final Skywalker saga installment will undoubtedly attain those lofty levels too, Disney's existing film catalog is enough to catapult the studio to the top position for the fourth year in a row.

Characters from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Image source: Disney.

A unique point in time

Never before have there been so many movies generating over $1 billion in worldwide receipts in a single year. Even if Sony hadn't snuck into the No. 3 position with Spider-Man: Far From Home and Warner Bros. hadn't grabbed the sixth spot with Joker, Disney still would have had more blockbusters in 2019 than the industry has been able to rack up in a single year.

Despite fan disaffection with the franchise after director Rian Johnson subverted expectations and good storytelling in The Last Jedi, how quickly Rise of Skywalker breaks ticket sales records will determine whether Disney notches a seventh billion-dollar film this year. Because it's the last chapter in the nine-chapter tale, fans are more apt to give J.J. Abrams a chance to redeem the franchise, which has fared poorly under Disney's ownership. Even if it doesn't rocket out of the gate, 2019 is a year of superlatives for the House of Mouse. 

Box office barn burners

Flowing from the fact that it has more movies earning $1 billion than anyone has before, Disney has also generated over $10 billion in receipts in a single year, more than any studio has made prior. And that doesn't count the contribution from the coming Star Wars release, nor the movies released by Fox, which Disney acquired in March.

Disney broke its own box office record in July when receipts surpassed $7.6 billion, the previous high the studio hit in 2016. So although Disney is burning up the box office, Hollywood itself is still trailing the total receipts the industry generated last year by about 6%. 

Here are Disney's six blockbusters listed in descending order based on worldwide receipts:



Domestic Box Office

International Box Office

Worldwide Box Office


Avengers: Endgame

$858.4 million

$1.939 billion

$2.798 billion


The Lion King

$543.6 million

$1.113 billion

$1.657 billion


Captain Marvel

$426.8 million

$701.4 million

$1.128 billion


Toy Story 4

$434.0 million

$639.4 million

$1.073 billion



$355.6 million

$695.1 million

$1.051 billion


Frozen II

$366.4 million

$667.2 million

$1.034 billion

Data source: Box Office Mojo. Table by author.

Not frozen in place

Frozen II was the latest of Disney's movies to reach the billion-dollar club, but it's also notable because it is the seventh biggest animated film of all time, and when tickets for the movie went on presale, it broke sales records for both Atom Tickets and Fandango.

Studio revenue for Disney jumped 10% in fiscal 2019 to $4.7 billion on the strength of the live-action releases of The Lion King and Aladdin. It was somewhat muted because there were no Star Wars releases during the period, and because Disney had four Marvel titles released last year and only two this time, even though Endgame was massive.

When Disney reports results for fiscal 2020 next November, however, look for it to have significant upside as a result. It seems hard to imagine Disney will be able to beat this year's efforts anytime soon, but it shows why its studio continues to be the premier moviemaker in Tinseltown and a top stock to buy.