In a surprising turn of events, Universal Studios has emerged as the highest-grossing studio at the 2023 box office, surpassing Disney for the first time since 2016. According to a report by Variety magazine, Universal earned a total of $4.91 billion globally, narrowly beating Disney, who came in second with approximately $4.83 billion.
Last year, both entertainment giants released a slew of major motion pictures, with Disney bringing out the latest installment in the Indiana Jones franchise, a live-action version of "The Little Mermaid," and additions to their already extensive list of Marvel films. Universal, on the other hand, released films like "Super Mario Bros.," "Oppenheimer," and "M3GAN."
Interestingly, despite Universal's victory, Disney still had the most films in the top ten at the box office for 2023, including "The Little Mermaid," "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3," "Elemental," and "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania." However, sources suggest that Disney's lower number of film releases last year, with only 17 compared to Universal's 24, may have contributed to their lower earnings.
It is worth noting that Disney has been a box office powerhouse for the past nine years and has consistently claimed one of the top two spots. Nevertheless, this year's results indicate a shift in the industry landscape.
While Disney experienced struggles in 2023, including underperforming films and failing to reach the $1 billion benchmark with any of their releases for the first time since 2014, it is unclear if these factors directly led to their second-place finish.
Overall, Universal Studios' triumph over Disney at the 2023 box office highlights the competitiveness of the industry and the unpredictable nature of box office success. It will be interesting to see how both studios adapt and strategize in the coming years to maintain their market dominance.