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Disney Wins Again But Comcast May Be On Its Heels

By Dan Moskowitz – Jan 11, 2014 at 1:00PM

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Disney and Comcast are both successful entertainment stories, but Disney continues to edge out all competitors.

Disney (DIS -0.01%) seems to be winning everywhere. Its hit fairytale movie, Frozen, has been a huge success, having grossed a total of $248 million in the United States, ($515.3 million worldwide), based on a $150 million budget. Perhaps more amazing is that Frozen still has momentum. Over the December 27-29 weekend, the movie grossed $28.5 million, a 45.6% increase over the previous weekend.

Warner Bros., a subsidiary of Time Warner (TWX) had the top box-office performer of the weekend with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, grossing $29 million, but this was a 7.8% decline compared to the previous weekend. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug now has a total domestic gross of $189.5 million and a worldwide gross of $633 million. However, while The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug sports an 86% audience approval rating on RottenTomatoes.com, that's not quite as high as Frozen, sporting an extremely impressive 90% audience approval rating.

To Foolish investors who follow Disney, there's a decent chance you're already aware of its recent box-office success. What you might not know is that Disney is also succeeding at another box office.

Big hit on Broadway
Disney's Broadway Play The Lion King has been a stupendous success. The show has been running since 1997. At that time, the average ticket price stood at $59. Due to high demand, tickets for The Lion King have significantly increased over the years. The average ticket is now $185.

In 2012, The Lion King passed Phantom of the Opera as the highest grossing Broadway show of all time. In October of 2013, The Lion King surpassed $1 billion in historical sales. In addition, it was the top performer at the Broadway box office in 2013, with $96.9 million in box-office receipts, barely squeaking by Wicked, which brings us to another conversation.

Wicked potential
In my opinion, Disney is best of breed for entertainment. Other companies are constantly trying to catch up. However, while Disney is best of breed, Universal Studios -- a subsidiary of Comcast (CMCSA 0.34%) -- has had its share of winners.

Many people don't know how Wicked ended up becoming a Broadway show. In 1995, Marc Platt read the Gregory Macguire novel: Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Marc Platt was President of Universal Studios at the time, and he was thinking of how to make the book a movie, but big-screen script adaptations weren't good enough.

He was later approached by Stephen Schwartz, a composer and lyricist. His idea was to turn it into a Broadway show. All film ideas were dropped, they shortened the title to Wicked, and the rest is history.

Marc Platt stated there will be a Wicked movie, and that it's likely to happen sooner rather than later. Rumors are that Platt wanted to wait for Broadway earnings to fall off, but that might no longer be the case, especially given the success of Les Miserables. Les Miserables had a domestic box office movie gross of $148.8 million and a global total gross of $441.8 million. These numbers are impressive given the film had a budget of $61 million.

Anyone in their right mind would be eager to turn Wicked into a movie, especially given its Broadway success. If this comes to fruition, it would likely produce a significant revenue stream for Universal Studios (also known as Universal Pictures), which would benefit Comcast.

The Foolish takeaway
Both Disney and Comcast have rewarded its investors over the years. They're not only entertainment gurus, but they both excel at building brands that can be stretched to maximize potential. There might be some bumps in the road, but historically, Disney and Comcast have always bounced back. Consider total shareholder return performance (stock appreciation plus dividend payments) over the past decade for both companies:

DIS Total Return Price Chart

DIS Total Return Price data by YCharts

Both companies are impressive, but Disney proves to be a dominating force. However, if you're simply looking for a resilient company that pays a dividend, Comcast currently yields 1.50%, whereas Disney yields 1.10%. Both are worth a closer look by Foolish investors willing to do their own research. 

Dan Moskowitz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney. 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.

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