Disney Makes History at Global B.O.

Disney’s stocks may be slipping in the wake of the recent board shake up, but the studio is enjoying its best year ever at the box office. Two seafaring adventures, Finding Nemo and Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, helped the Buena Vista Film Distribution Group set a new industry box office record for a single year. Disney films grossed more than $3 billion in 2003.

BVFD releases scored $1.48 billion at the North American box office alone. Its previous high of $1.24 billion was reached in 1999. International receipts added up to $1.6 billion, putting the grand total well over the $2.864 billion bar set by Sony in 2002.

Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook also counted big screen successes Brother Bear, Bringing Down the House, Freaky Friday, Holes and Open Range among the studio’s big box office contributors. Another title that did surprisingly well both domestically and internationally is the Jim Carey comedy vehicle Bruce Almighty, which conjured up $204 million to become Buena Vista Int’l’s highest grossing acquisition of all time, according to company president Mark Zoradi.

Nemo and Pirates also earned BVFD the distinction of being the first distributor to ever have two back-to-back $300 million releases. In addition, the company also boasts the two highest-grossing titles of the year, no small feat considering 2003 saw the release of two Matrix blockbusters and a summer loaded with high-profile would-be contenders such as The Hulk and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

Nemo has already grossed more than $240 million overseas and has just begun its run in continental Europe. It will open in Japan this coming weekend.