Disney's DIS newest Marvel superhero film, Black Panther, crushed initial projections and brought in roughly $240 million at domestic box offices over the weekend. This strong start to the current fiscal quarter was just what Disney needed as it has seen its Studio Entertainment unit revenues decline in recent quarters.
The film, which stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, and Lupita Nyong'o, boasted an estimated budget of $200 million, and early projections called for between $100 million and $120 million in opening weekend sales for the latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Expectations were eventually raised to $170 million after a ton of pre-sale tickets were sold and commercial and social media hype increased.
Black Panther eventually earned a total of $242 million at 4,020 North American locations, which topped the four-day domestic opening total for Star Wars: The Last Jedi to move into second-place all-time . The film now sits behind only Disney's Star Wars: The Force Awakens .
The movie also recorded the fifth-largest opening weekend ever. Black Panther performed well internationally too, bringing in $184.6 million abroad-led by strong sales in South Korea and the U.K. In total, the blockbuster brought in $426.6 million worldwide.
The strong opening weekend could spell more stellar numbers down the road as the film continues to receive great critical feedback, with a 96% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes. Black Panther's debut also proceeds what Disney hopes will be a string of 2018 hits, including A Wrinkle in Time, Avengers: Infinity War, The Incredibles 2, and Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Last year proved to be a rough year for Disney's Studio Entertainment segment after it landed major wins in 2016. In fiscal 2017, Studio Entertainment sales slipped by 11% to $8.38 billion. In the first quarter of fiscal 2018, segment revenues dipped marginally (also read: Disney Q1 Earnings Beat, Parks & Resorts Leads the Way ).
Disney is currently a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). The company has earned 10 earnings estimate revisions with 100% agreement to the upside for fiscal 2018, as well as seven for the following year.
Looking ahead to fiscal 2018, Disney is expected to see its revenues hit $58.88 billion, which would mark a 6.80% year-over-year jump, based on our current Zacks Consensus Estimates. The company is also projected to expand its bottom-line by nearly 21.93%. The company is projected to see its sales surge nearly 6% in the current quarter, while its earnings are expected to expand by 12%-both of which could easily be raised since Black Panther blew past initial box-office estimates.
Looking ahead, Disney will continue to lean on Marvel for box-office growth even if its massive 21st Century Fox FOXA deal is approved. A successful new series in the giant Marvel Universe will also help the company as it starts its own over-the-top streaming platform to compete against the likes of Netflix NFLX and Amazon AMZN .
And finally, due to the recent market-wide selloff, shares of Disney rest over 9% below their 52-week high, which means investors might consider scooping up the entertainment giant as its big-name titles become more valuable in a highly competitive media landscape.
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