Universal Takes Top Spot at the Box Office for 2023, Unseating Disney as Reigning Champ Seven Years Running

Dylan Kennedy Grey

Updated on:

Universal Takes Top Spot at the Box Office for 2023, Unseating Disney as Reigning Champ Seven Years Running

There’s a new box office heavyweight on the block, taking the crown from the titan heavyweight that is The Walt Disney Company: Universal Pictures ranked as the highest-grossing studio at the box office in 2023, according to Variety.

Universal Takes Top Spot at the Box Office for 2023

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For the first time since 2015, Disney dropped to second place as Universal took the top spot at the box office for 2023. After releasing 24 films throughout the year, Universal’s high-earning “Oppenheimer,” “M3GAN,” and “The Super Mario Brothers Movie” pushed worldwide box office sales for Universal to $4.907 billion. Disney, by comparison, brought in $4.827 billion in global box office sales and, in a note to the press, partially attributed the $80 million difference to the studio’s film count (seven fewer than Universal for 2023).

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Disney did have more films than other studios in the top 10 for 2023, which they highlighted in their note to the press. They did not have a film in the top three releases, however, which is abnormal. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” was their highest-grossing film of the year. Excluding pandemic years 2020 and 2021, which dramatically impacted box office earnings for all studios worldwide, this was also the first year that Disney did not have a single film release surpass the $1 billion mark.

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Disney and Universal were closely competing for the top spot at the box office, with the competition lagging far behind the two. Even with the smash success “Barbie,” Warner Bros. took only $3.84 billion globally for the year. Sony and Paramount each brought in about $2 billion for the year.

The top 10 films domestically were:

  1. “Barbie,” Warner Bros. – $636.2 million
  2. “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” Universal Pictures – $574.9 million
  3. “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” Sony/Columbia Pictures – $381.3 million
  4. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” Walt Disney Studios/Marvel Studios – $358.9 million
  5. “Oppenheimer,” Universal Pictures – $326 million
  6. “The Little Mermaid,” Walt Disney Studios – $298.1 million
  7. “Avatar: The Way of Water,” Walt Disney Studios/20th Century Studios – $283 million*
  8. “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” Walt Disney Studios/Marvel Studios – $214.5 million
  9. “John Wick: Chapter 4,” Lionsgate – $187.1 million
  10. “Sound of Freedom,” Angel Studios – $184.1 million

*”Avatar: The Way of Water” was released in late 2022 and became the third highest-grossing film of all time, and the highest-grossing film of that year, surpassing $1 billion worldwide. All other films on the list were released in 2023.

A media executive recently predicted that in 2024, no film from any studio will surpass $1 billion at the worldwide box office. New Disney films scheduled for release this year are Pixar’s “Inside Out 2” (June 14), Marvel’s “Deadpool 3” (July 26), an untitled Walt Disney Animation Studios film (November 27), and “Mufasa: The Lion King” (December 20).

Which of the top 10 films did you catch in theaters? Let us know in the comments.

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