In Disney's (NYSE:DIS) animated Hercules feature, during a pivotal moment when the title character reveals his brute strength the jumpy From Zero to Hero tune punctuates the plot point home.

It's also a fitting ditty after Disney's Miramax scored a surprise late-summer hit over the weekend with its visually stunning martial arts epic Hero claiming the throne over the weekend's box-office receipts.

Perhaps the movie's strong showing shouldn't have come as much of a shocker. It had already grossed more than $100 million worldwide since its initial theatrical release overseas in 2002. One can argue that Miramax should have introduced the classy flick stateside earlier. Since the runaway success of The Passion of the Christ, Life is Beautiful, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, it's not as though rolling out an overseas hit with subtitles has been much of a liability.

However, by waiting until the hearty summer movie season has all but come to a close, one is left wondering how the movie would have fared with a little more fanfare either earlier in the summer or closer to its initial release overseas.

Disney has had a bad year at the box office. King Arthur was overruled. Alamo was forgotten. Home on the Range was put out to pasture. While the studio started to show signs of life later in the summer with The Village and Princess Diaries 2, it has fallen a bit short of expectations.

Disney still has Pixar's (NASDAQ:PIXR) The Incredibles coming out in November, yet that may prove to be a bittersweet reminder that Disney will be down to just one more film due from the computer animation studio before it goes it alone come 2006.

Naturally, a movie studio doesn't have to churn out blockbusters to appease its investors. Even as Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) was wowing audiences with its Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies, its stock was stuck in neutral. Sony's (NYSE:SNE) shares are trading lower today than when the company first rolled out its high-grossing Spider-Man flicks.

Because most filmmakers are part of huge entertainment conglomerates, it often takes more than just a hit to turn a company around. However, for a company such as Disney that prides itself on milking a hit through its various operating revenue streams, fiscal success often begins with the successful parting of the red curtains. Disney needed a hero, but this Hero came too late.

What have you thought about Disney's films this year? Did you catch Hero and its eye-candy feast of plot twists over the weekend? Which movies do you think will fare well over the holidays? All this and more in theDisneydiscussion board. Only on

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares in Disney and Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation Pixar.