Disney, Sony releases dominate the summer box office

John Cairns

Labour Day is over, which means summer movie season is over. People are either headed back to work (aargh!), or back to school (double arrgh!). As a result, September and October promise to be much quieter at the theatres, although It: Chapter Two is likely to earn a ton of money.

Congratulations to this year’s summer box office champion, The Lion King, which had a domestic box office gross of over $523 million since its release on July 19. 

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Here is the full rundown of the top ten summer release numbers for the period from the beginning of May to the end of Labour Day weekend, courtesy Box Office Mojo:

1. The Lion King (2019) -  Disney - $523,549,294

2. Toy Story 4- Disney - $430,457,899

3. Spider-Man: Far from Home- Sony - $385,957,588

4. Aladdin (2019) – Disney - $354,509,665

5. John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum- Lionsgate/Summit - $170,926,873

6. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw- Universal - $159,022,350

7. The Secret Life of Pets 2- Universal - $157,833,845

8. Pokemon Detective Pikachu- Warner Bros. - $144,105,346

9. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood- Sony - $131,022,549

10. Godzilla: King of the Monsters- Warner Bros. - $110,495,191

In news that will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone, the top movie studio of the summer box office season was Disney. According to Box Office Mojo numbers, Disney’s gross added up to $1.3 billion for The Lion King, Toy Story 4 and Aladdin combined. The runner-up was Sony, on the strength of its hits Spider-Man: Far from Home and Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

It was truly a feast or famine situation at the theatres, with only four big summer hits earning over $300 million while a fifth, Avengers: Endgame, opened in late April just a week before the official start of the summer movie season.

During the summer season Avengers: Endgame ended up setting the global record for the top movie box office of all time, earning a total worldwide gross of $2,796,255,402 which has topped Avatar’s record.

Notably, it was a long drop between Aladdin at $354 million and John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum at $170 million. In fact there were stories written about this, about the lack of movies that ended up earning in that $200-$300 million range. In the summer of 2019, movies were either a massive hit, or just another flick trying to make money.

That explains what transpired in the larger box office picture. Reports in Variety and elsewhere indicate the overall domestic summer box office box office generated $4.32 billion, down two percent from a summer ago.


Well, that’s what you get, Hollywood, when you don’t have enough variety at the cinemas. That’s what you get when the paying customers are stuck with the same old superheroes, and the same old CGI cartoon characters, and the same old CGI monsters, and the same old Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson over and over again. Eventually, people will get bored and fed up with paying for the same old product. It’s not rocket science.

That is my editorial comment about the summer movie season! Now, we look forward to fall, to the excitement of the Toronto International Film Festival and to these other releases that are happening soon. Hopefully this will finally mean some more variety at the cinemas as well.

It won’t be long before the potential box-office blockbusters are rolled out again in November and December. Question: can Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker possibly top the all-time record pace set earlier this year by Avengers: Endgame? We shall find out.




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