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Disney's Got Another Blockbuster on Its Hands

Danny Vena, The Motley Fool

It was less than three months ago that Disney's (NYSE: DIS) Black Panther took the world by storm. The Marvel story about the superhero king of the fictional nation of Wakanda broke a number of box-office records on its way to the coveted billion-dollar club, with more than $1.3 billion in ticket sales -- a number that is still growing.

There were great expectations going into the release of the next chapter of Marvel's canon, Avengers: Infinity War. The movie, which once again united its superheroes to face a galactic threat, had a record number of pre-sales and significant buzz on the heels of Black Panther, leaving fans and investors alike expecting big things -- and they were not disappointed. The latest installment of the Marvel franchise broke domestic and international opening-weekend records, but in its second week of release, several other historic benchmarks fell.

The Avengers, led by Captain America and Black Panther, run towards an unseen foe

Avengers: Infinity War is dominating the box office. Image source: Disney.

A heroic run

The Avengers assembled the fastest path to $1 billion in global ticket sales in box-office history -- they took just 11 days. The previous champ was another Disney title, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which made a 12-day dash to the top. The record run also helped Disney achieve another milestone: The company sprinted to $3 billion in worldwide box office in record time, crossing the threshold on Friday, May 4. In 2016, Disney topped that same benchmark by May 6.

It's important to note that of the 34 films that have crested $1 billion in ticket sales, more than half belong to Disney:

Title

Worldwide Box Office

Domestic Ticket Sales

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

$2.07 billion

$937 million

Marvel's The Avengers

$1.52 billion

$623 million

Avengers: Age of Ultron

$1.40 billion

$459 million

Black Panther

$1.34 billion

$693 million

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

$1.33 billion

$619 million

Frozen

$1.28 billion

$401 million

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

$1.26 billion

$504 million

Iron Man 3

$1.21 billion

$409 million

Avengers: Infinity War

$1.16 billion

$451 million

Captain America: Civil War

$1.15 billion

$408 million

Toy Story 3

$1.07 billion

$415 million

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

$1.04 billion

$241 million

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

$1.05 billion

$532 million

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

$1.05 billion

$241 million

Finding Dory

$1.03 billion

$486 million

Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace

$1.03 billion

$475 million

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

$1.03 billion

$334 million

Zootopia

$1.02 billion

$341 million

Data source: Box Office Mojo.

There's more to come

The one-two punch of Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War has helped Disney capture nearly 32% of all box-office receipts so far in 2018, and the all-important summer movie season has only just begun.

Avengers: Infinity War has topped $1.16 billion in global box office at the time of this writing, which will be further fueled by the movie's May 11 launch in China.

Some speculate that the superhero team-up film has the potential to be Disney's best ever, possibly even surpassing the $2.068 billion in total worldwide box office achieved by Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2016. It'll be months before we know the answer to that question. But Avengers: Infinity War will almost certainly be Marvel's most successful outing to date; the first Avengers film finished its theatrical run with $1.52 billion, a watermark which will probably be surpassed in the coming weeks.

Taking up the slack

Disney's recent string of box-office hits is about more than just bragging rights. The secular decline in linear TV and cord-cutting has been taking a toll on the financial results of Disney's media networks segment, its biggest breadwinner. This ongoing trend has kept the company's stock range-bound over the last three years. The combination of growing attendance at the company's theme parks and box-office successes from Disney's studio entertainment segment helped the company return to growth last quarter, and investors are hoping the success of these blockbusters will produce more of the same.

Stay tuned. Earth's mightiest heroes will likely topple more box-office records in weeks to come.

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Danny Vena owns shares of Walt Disney and has the following options: long January 2019 $85 calls on Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.