Disney Has Made Nearly $25 Billion From Marvel and ‘Star Wars’

Estimated read time 3 min read

The Big Picture

  • Marvel and Star Wars have generated impressive returns for Disney, but
    Toy Story
    have been even more profitable in terms of ROI.
  • Disney’s success with these franchises extends beyond film and TV, with attractions like Avengers Campus and Frozen Ever After bringing in significant revenue.
  • Despite recent challenges and mixed audience reactions, Disney plans to continue capitalizing on the success of these lucrative IPs for years to come.

Disney released a presentation earlier this week that gave a rare look into how fruitful the biggest IPs are for the House of Mouse. The filing reveals that its tentpole franchises, Marvel and Star Wars, have garnered $11.6 billion USD and $13.2 billion USD respectively since they were each acquired for $4 billion USD in 2009 and 2012, good for a 3.3 times and 2.9 times return on investment.

Those numbers are pulled from aggregate 10-year expected and generated revenue streams, which relate to theatrical releases, home entertainment, TV, and consumer products, made under Disney’s ownership, though notably don’t include other sources like park attractions based on the works or other direct to consumer originals or pre-established products related to the franchises. The investment, of course, comes from the costs to produce and advertise theatrical releases as well as production overhead for animated content. It’s clearly been a success for the company, despite recent theatrical struggles, and Disney even offered a timeline of its most impactful releases including the four Avengers movies, particularly financial juggernauts Infinity War and Endgame, as well as the debut of the Star Wars sequel trilogy and television successes like Andor.

Disney also touted the launch of attractions like Avengers Campus, Star Tours, and Galaxy’s Edge as a further show of the many significant revenue streams beyond film and television each franchise provides. With Star Wars, the company also touted three untitled upcoming movies, likely including The Mandalorian & Grogu coming in 2026 and Daisy Ridley‘s film, though Marvel also has a lot on the horizon, including Deadpool & Wolverine on July 26.

Marvel and ‘Star Wars’ Aren’t Disney’s Best Return on Investment

While Disney’s biggest franchises are without question Marvel and Star Wars, they are dwarfed in terms of ROI by two of their animated juggernauts – Frozen and Toy Story. Frozenhas made a staggering 9.9 times more than Disney invested, which comes as no shock considering the staggering box office returns of both films – $1.28 billion USD and $1.420 billion USD respectively – as well as the releases of Once Upon a Snowman and Olaf Presents and numerous attractions including Frozen Ever After at Walt Disney World, Frozen – Live at the Hyperion at Disneyland, and World of Frozen at Hong Kong Disneyland. A third film is also on the way, albeit without Jennifer Lee at the helm.

Toy Story, meanwhile, has given Disney a 5.5 times ROI, with the company citing the four mainline films as well as expansions like the NFL Alt-Cast and the franchise’s many park attractions. Also listed is Lightyear despite its underwhelming critical reception and dismal box office performance. It too, has another film which was announced alongside Frozen 3 and Zootopia 2 in an effort by Bob Iger to lean into the most profitable IPs.

Although activist investors are trying to force a change at Disney and there’s been a mixed reaction among audiences regarding the company’s content of late, they’ll keep coming back to the well with these franchises as long as the money keeps rolling in.