The Walt Disney Company (DIS - Free Report) is one of the biggest media and entertainment corporations in the world. Known best for its popular animated feature films and tourist-favorite theme parks and resorts, Disney has held a major piece of America’s media identity since its founding in 1923.
The corporation has grown enormously since its beginnings as a cartoon studio, amassing well-known film, radio, music, television, and other various assets.
So what companies, exactly, does Disney operate? Here’s a breakdown of the companies by industry that the media conglomerate owns.
Walt Disney Studios
Walt Disney Studios is home to four major film studios: Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, and Lucasfilm Ltd.
The company’s animation studio has produced an impressive 56 animated feature films, beginning with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. Its most recent film, Moana, was released in November 2016, and the studio currently has four films in development including Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 and Gigantic.
Pixar, who received funding from late Apple Inc. (AAPL - Free Report) co-founder Steve Jobs (he was also the studio’s majority shareholder before Disney bought the company in 2006), has produced 17 films. It’s most recent film, Finding Dory, was released last summer, and Pixar has two upcoming films slated for 2017: Cars 3 and Coco.
Together, these films have earned 13 Academy Awards, nine Golden Globe Awards, and 11 Grammy Awards. Eight of these films won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature; Up and Toy Story 3 were even nominated for the prestigious Best Picture Oscar. Most recently, Pixar’s critically acclaimed film Inside Out won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film.
In 2009, Disney purchased Marvel Studios, which has produced many movies based on Marvel comic book characters: The Avengers, X-Men, Spider-man, and Guardians of the Galaxy are just the beginning in a long list of successful Marvel superhero franchises.
And in 2012, Disney acquired Lucasfilm Ltd, the studio best known for creating the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. This past December saw Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first stand-alone film in the Star Wars franchise, hit theaters. The film grossed $1.056 billion at the worldwide box office on a budget of $200 million. Episode 8 of the original franchise, The Last Jedi, is set to hit theaters this December, with Episode 9 already in production.
Disney could also count its live-action remakes as a fifth pillar of its studio business now that Beauty and the Beast has proven so successful. During its opening weekend, the film brought in $170 million and so far, total box office numbers have surpassed $1 billion. Even more animated classics are planning on coming to life, like The Lion King, Aladdin, and Dumbo.
Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media
The Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media section of Disney includes primarily the company’s retail store, Disney Store, which has over 400 locations worldwide, as well as brand merchandise from feature films and Disney.com.
It also operates The Muppets Studio, which produces Muppet-themed movies and television specials, and Disney Publishing Worldwide, a subsidiary that publishes the popular young adult franchises Star Darling and Waterfire Saga, as well as Hyperion Books for children.
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
Aside from its animated movies, Disney’s Walt Disney Parks and Resorts are the corporation’s most well-known attractions. Disneyland Park, one of two theme parks built at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, was Disney’s first major theme park. It first opened back in 1955, and is known for its iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle. The other Anaheim-located park is Disney California, which opened in 2001 and is dedicated to the state of California.
Arguably Disney’s most popular theme park is Walt Disney World Resort, located in Bay Lake, Florida near Orlando. Attractions include four major parks: Magic Kingdom Park, home to a life-size version of Cinderella’s castle, the company’s most recognizable landmark; Epcot; Hollywood Studios; and Animal Kingdom Park. The resort is also home to two water parks.
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts are not limited to just the U.S. The corporation operates the successful Disneyland Paris, which opened in 1992, as well as Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, which opened its doors in 2005. Disney recently opened its Shanghai Disney Resort in China after years of planning and costs of over $5.5 billion. Disney also operates a popular cruise line.
Disney Media Networks
In addition to popular film franchises, Disney owns and operates many television channels that produce popular TV series. Its biggest subsidiary under Disney Media Networks is ABC, which produces hit network shows Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder and its flagship evening news program ABC World News Tonight.
Disney also owns part of Hulu, an Internet streaming video service, along with 21st Century Fox (FOXA - Free Report) (under FOX Broadcasting Company) and Comcast, the world's biggest media company in 2015 (CMCSA - Free Report) (under NBCUniversal Television Group).
And recently, the company announced plans for its own streaming service after it pulls its movies from Netflix’s (NFLX - Free Report) popular video streaming platform. Next year, Disney will launch an ESPN streaming service that will provide access to 10,000 live international, national, and regional games every year. Disney is also debuting a direct-to-consumer service in 2019 that will offer Disney movies and TV shows.
In 1984, the company purchased sports network ESPN, but lately, the network has not been doing Disney any favors. In its recent quarterly earnings report, ESPN disappointed investors again. Weaker results at the sports network were mostly due to an increase in programming costs and declining subscriber base compared to the prior year period. While ESPN has suffered immensely from the rise of cord cutters, the network has closed a number of new deals that will hopefully boost results.
Disney also operates A&E Networks, in a joint venture with Hearst Corporation. Among its popular television channels include The History Channel and A&E, home to Storage Wars, The First 48, Duck Dynasty, and the scripted series Bates Motel. Disney also owns, of course, The Disney Channel.
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