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'Dark Phoenix' dragged down Disney's box office earnings despite 'Avengers' success

Key Points
  • The studio reported revenue of $3.8 billion during the quarter, shy of the $4.5 billion analysts had estimated, according to Refinitiv data.
  • Disney blamed "Dark Phoenix" for dragging on the company's massive box office haul.
  • The film disappointed at the box office, generating a dismal $65 million in revenue in the U.S. and $186 million abroad.
Dark Phoenix
Source: Walt Disney Studios

"Avengers: Endgame" may have become the highest-grossing film of all time, but Earth's mightiest heroes weren't able to boost Disney's studio earnings above analyst estimates in the third quarter.

In fact, "Dark Phoenix," a film obtained by Disney during the 20th Century Fox acquisition earlier this year, was the true villain of the quarter. The film disappointed at the box office, generating a dismal $65 million in revenue in the U.S. and $186 million abroad. It cost an estimated $200 million to produce the film and that's not factoring in the marketing costs of the film.

Disney blamed "Dark Phoenix" for dragging on the company's massive box office haul. Overall, the studio reported revenue of $3.8 billion during the quarter, representing a 33% increase from the same period a year ago. However, that was shy of the $4.5 billion analysts had foreseen, according to Refinitiv data.

"[The Fox] film studio had an operating loss in the third quarter of about $170 million which was driven by the underperformance of theatrical titles including 'Dark Phoenix,' marketing for future releases, and development expenses," Christine McCarthy, Disney's CFO, said during an earnings call Tuesday.

"Dark Phoenix" was the final chapter in Fox's X-Men film franchise and currently holds a Rotten score of 23% on Rotten Tomatoes. Now that Disney owns the rights to these characters, Marvel President Kevin Feige has teased that fans will see mutants in future films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

"On the other hand, I'll note that the performance of the Disney film studio continues to be incredibly strong," McCarthy said.

The company praised "Endgame," "Captain Marvel," "Aladdin" and "Toy Story 4," which outpaced the results of "Avengers: Infinity War," "Incredibles 2," "Black Panther," and "Solo: A Star Wars Story" in the same period in 2018.

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