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Walt Disney Studios was founded in 1923 by brothers Walt and Roy Disney under the name Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio. The studio found early success with its “Alice Comedies,” before creating cartoon icon Mickey Mouse and developing a series of short films around the popular mouse. In 1937, the newly named Walt Disney Studio released its first feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, to critical and commercial success. By the 1950s, the studio was producing both live-action and animated films. This expansion led to a splitting of the studio into Walt Disney Pictures, for live-action films, and Walt Disney Animation Studios, for animated films, all under the Walt Disney Studios parent company. 
As of 2015, Walt Disney Studios has grown to include several other film divisions and subsidiaries. Touchstone Pictures was created in 1984 to create more adult-oriented films to attract new markets. DisneyToon Studios and Pixar are two animation companies, with DisneyToon creating mostly direct-to-video films. Disneynature was founded in 2009 to release independent nature documentaries. The next year, Disney purchased Marvel Entertainment, focused on creating superhero films based on the long-running Marvel comics. In 2012, Disney acquired Lucasfilm, Ltd. and now own the rights to film franchises like Star Wars and Indiana Jones. 
As of December 2015, Disney Studios holds 15.9% market share ranking it second behind Universal for the year.  Disney’s fourth quarter reports showed only a very slight increase in profits from last year, in regards to their entertainment division. The division grossed $1.783 billion in its fourth quarter, making the worldwide gross $7.366 billion for the year. This is a 1% increase from last year’s total of $7.278 billion. These numbers are mainly attributed to box office performances like Inside Out, Ant-Man, and Bridge of Spies being similar to the performances of Guardians of the Galaxy and Maleficent from 2014.  Despite this, Disney’s stock has increased greatly over the past few months, going from $95.36 a share in August to $115.39 currently.  One of the biggest reasons for this is the upcoming release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which is expected to break several box office records and has already sold millions of dollars in merchandise. 
FALL 2015 FILMS
Pixar’s Inside Out was not released in the fall season, but it still maintained a strong theater presence during this time. Opening in June, Inside Out‘s opening broke the box office record for an original, non-sequel property with $91 million in its first three days.  The film experienced a resurgence in the month of September with it reopening in 2,204 theaters. As of the end of November, it is still shown in some theaters and has grossed over $850 million worldwide.  The film’s critical reception is largely attributed to these high numbers with a 98% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  Because of scores like these, the movie’s notoriety spread through word-of-mouth.
Similarly to Inside Out, Marvel’s Ant-Man was not released during the fall. While its numbers were not as good as Inside Out, Ant-Man did quite well in the box office and exceeded expectations. The film opened to number one with a weekend gross of more than $57 million. As of late November, it too is still showing in several theaters.  In late October, Ant-Man became the ninth movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to break $500 million. There were some concerns about the movie since Ant-Man is a relatively unknown superhero but positive reviews, the star power of Paul Rudd, and its ties to the Marvel Cinematic Universe made it a bigger hit than anticipated. 
Bridge of Spies
Released on October 16, Touchstone Feature’s Bridge of Spies tells the real-life story of James Donovan, a Brooklyn insurance claims lawyer who was sent by the CIA to the Soviet Union to negotiate the release of a captured American pilot.  On a budget of $40 million, the film has grossed over $95 million, making it a box office success for Disney. The success can be attributed to the star power of those who worked on the film, as it was directed by Steven Spielberg, written by the Coen Brothers, and stars Hollywood icon Tom Hanks.
The Good Dinosaur
Released on November 25, Pixar’s second film of the year The Good Dinosaur tells the story of a boy and a dinosaur who form a bond in an alternate timeline where the dinosaurs never became extinct. The film grossed more than $56 million on its opening weekend, which is considered to be a disappointment by Pixar’s standards. While the film is expected to break even, The Good Dinosaur had the weakest launch in Pixar’s twenty year history.  There are several reasons why this is the case. First are the reviews, which only point to the movie being okay. The timing was also not ideal, as the movie launched at the same time as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 and Creed, which have both been early box office successes. Lastly, the marketing for the movie was considered to be poor, as Disney has been focusing most of its attention on promoting Star Wars: The Force Awakens. 
Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens is Disney’s biggest project of the year and is poised to do massive box office numbers. The seventh film in the Star Wars franchise takes place thirty years after the events of 1981’s Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and features returning stars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill along with a new cast. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is expected to shatter several box office records with many speculating that it could become the highest-grossing film of all time.  Disney’s heavy marketing campaign has built up a huge amount of hype for the film’s December 18 release. The film has actually already made $50 million through pre-sale tickets, alone breaking pre-sale ticket records.  The J.J. Abrams-directed space opera is the first in a planned new trilogy and the purchase of Lucasfilm, Ltd. is quickly looking like one of Disney’s smartest decisions in the past few years.
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