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The Rise of Skywalker just became Disney’s seventh billion-dollar hit of 2019

It’s a record that probably won’t be matched soon

Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian fly the Millennium Falcon into battle in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Image: Lucasfilm/Disney
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker topped $1 billion in worldwide box office earnings on Tuesday, according to released estimates. The milestone, crossed after 28 days in theaters, gives Disney seven of the nine billion-dollar earners launched in 2019. Both are records, of course, and probably not ones to be matched anytime soon.

Disney’s ongoing estimate of The Rise of Skywalker’s haul had it crossing the milestone sometime Sunday. Last weekend, Disney said Star Wars’ ninth episode had taken in $919 million since its Dec. 20 premiere. After a $4.5 million take on Tuesday, Rise of Skywalker stands at $1.001 billion overall. That means $1 billion and an extra million dollars carrying them over the threshold.

The film still trails the global receipts of 1999’s Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, plus its two predecessors in the latest trilogy. (These totals and comparisons are whole-dollar and not adjusted for inflation.)

Before this year, the most billion-dollar movies in a single year, across all distributors, was five, in 2018 and 2015. Even with its powerhouse Marvel Cinematic Universe delivering much of this financial performance since 2012, Disney has only launched more than two films from that series in a year once (last year, with three). So this isn’t just attributable to superheroes and Star Wars teaming up at the right time. (Spider-Man: Far From Home is a Sony Pictures release — though it, too, grossed more than $1 billion worldwide).

Instead, it’s Disney’s fan and family favorites — live-action remakes Aladdin and The Lion King, plus Toy Story 4 and Frozen 2 — that made 2019 such an outlier. All of them grossed 10 figures worldwide, and last week, Disney said that Frozen 2 was now the highest-grossing animated movie of all time. But it looks as if Disney chose to fire all of its guns in 2019 — Endgame and The Rise of Skywalker both close out their universe’s major storylines, making 2020 comparatively more quiet.

According to Box Office Mojo, there have been 46 worldwide billion-dollar makers beginning with Jurassic Park in 1993. There wasn’t more than one in a year until 2010, when Disney released Alice in Wonderland and Toy Story 3.

2019’s billion-dollar earners are, in order:

  1. Avengers: Endgame ($2.7 billion, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
  2. The Lion King ($1.6 billion, Disney)
  3. Frozen 2 ($1.3 billion, Disney)
  4. Spider-Man: Far From Home ($1.1 billion, Sony Pictures Releasing)
  5. Captain Marvel ($1.1 billion, Disney)
  6. Toy Story 4 ($1.07 billion, Disney)
  7. Joker ($1.06 billion, Warner Bros. Pictures)
  8. Aladdin ($1.05 billion, Disney)
  9. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ($1.001 billion, Disney)