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Universal Pictures ends 2023 on top at the box office

Universal Pictures ruled the global, US and international box office in 2023, dethroning Disney for the first time since 2016.

The studio released 24 films during the year – compared to Disney’s 17 – and earned $1.94bn at the US box office, while international added $2.97bn for a $4.91bn global haul, reported Screen Daily.

Disney, meanwhile, notched up $1.9bn in the US, $2.92bn internationally and $4.83bn at the global box office.

Universal also became the first studio in the US to cross the $1bn threshold. It posted five number one debuts led by The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which ended 2023 as the second highest-grossing film of the year in the US on $575m.

In addition, The Super Mario Bros. Movie finished the year as the highest-grossing animation ($1.36bn) after delivering the highest global debut on $377m (ahead of Barbie’s $356m) and biggest Illumination debut of all time after it overtook Minions and Despicable Me 3 in like-for-like opening markets.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie is the second biggest animation release of all time, behind Disney’s Frozen 2 ($1.45bn), and the number two animation of all time in the US behind Pixar’s Incredibles 2 ($609m).

In addition, Universal also took the number one horror film at the global box office with Five Nights at Freddy’s ($290m).

Screen Daily went on to report highlights for Disney during 2023 including Marvel Studios’ Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 on $359m in North America and $846m worldwide; Walt Disney Animation Studios’ The Little Mermaid on $298m domestic and $570m global; and Pixar’s Elemental on $154m domestic and $496m global.

Avatar: The Way of Water also earned over $1bn in 2023, having been released in December 2022.

Warner Bros.’ Barbie was the biggest film of the year at the US and global box office, helping the studio into third place on a reported $1.43bn domestic, $2.41bn international and $3.84bn global.

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