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Marvel Movies are Box Office Gold: Can We Expect Billions More From the MCU?

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Disney (DIS - Free Report) acquired Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion in 2009. At the time, many worried that the deal would both harm Marvel’s beloved characters and hurt Disney’s bottom line. Almost a decade later, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become one of the biggest movie franchises in history, with over a dozen box office hits and no plans to slow down anytime soon.

Paramount Pictures and Marvel Studios released the first Iron Man movie, starring Robert Downey Jr., all the way back in May 2008. That same summer Marvel and Universal Pictures released The Incredible Hulk, which actually starred Edward Norton, not Mark Ruffalo.

Few could have anticipated that these two movies would spark a multibillion-dollar movie franchise. Then, Disney purchased Marvel Entertainment, and everything changed.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at just how much the Marvel movies have grossed at the box office and dive into what’s next from the MCU.

Phase One

·         Iron Man- $585.2 million

·         The Incredible Hulk- $263.2 million

·         Iron Man 2- $623.9 million

·         Thor- $449.3 million

·         Captain America: The First Avenger- $370.6 million

·         The Avengers- $1.5 billion

Phase Two

·         Iron Man 3- $1.2 billion

·         Thor: The Dark World- $644.6 million

·         Captain America: The Winter Soldier- $714.3 million

·         Guardians of the Galaxy- $773.3 million

·         Avengers: Age of Ultron- $1.4 billion

·         Ant-Man- $519.3 million

Phase Three

·         Captain America: Civil War- $1.2 billion

·         Doctor Strange- $677.7 million

·         Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2- $863.8 million

·         Spider-Man: Homecoming- $880.2 million

·         Thor: Ragnarok- $854 million

·         Black Panther- $1.3 billion

·         Avengers: Infinity War- $1.2 billion

The most recent movies, Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, are two of the most successful. In fact, Avengers: Infinity War broke domestic and global records on it way to becoming the largest movie opening in history. To date, the 19 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have together grossed more than $16 billion, which makes MCU “by far the most lucrative box office franchise of all time,” according to Disney.

Looking Ahead

There are currently three new Marvel films set to be released within the next year. The first, Ant-Man and the Wasp, is scheduled to hit theaters on July 6. Meanwhile, Captain Marvel isn’t due out until March 2019, with an untitled Avengers sequel tentatively set for May 2019.

At one point not too long ago Disney planned for the final Avengers movie to mark the climax of the franchise after a decade-long run. However, Disney has seen the light and won’t move on from this cash cow just yet. CEO Bob Iger provided some details about his company’s plan to move the franchise forward on Disney’s recent earnings call. “We meet on a regular basis with our Marvel team, and we plotted out Marvel movies that will take us well into the next decade,” Iger said.

“We're confident that with the 7,000 some odd characters that are part of the Marvel universe that there's plenty stories and characters to mine from and have some great ideas. I'm guessing that we will try our hand at what I'll call a new franchise beyond Avengers, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you won't see more Avengers down the road. We just haven't made any announcements about that.”

Disney also touched on its plans to add Marvel related content for its new standalone streaming service that is set to launch in late 2019—as Disney waits for its current Netflix (NFLX - Free Report) contracts to expire. “We're producing right now content for it, original content that is Pixar branded, Marvel branded, Star Wars branded and Disney branded,” Iger said.

Marvel fans should be excited to see what Disney’s new streaming service has to offer, and how much content will live there. But it is very reasonable to assume that nearly all of the Marvel movies and any new shows will be available in order to entice customers as Disney fights against the likes of Amazon (AMZN - Free Report) and other streaming powers. Iger also made it clear that Disney will launch its streaming service even if the Fox (FOXA - Free Report) deal doesn’t go through.

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