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Disney studios tracking for blockbuster year on 'Infinity War,' 'Black Panther'

Walt Disney Co.'s studio entertainment segment is poised for another blockbuster quarter, with "Avengers: Infinity War" looking to pick up where "Black Panther" left off.

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The company reported record fiscal second-quarter studio entertainment revenue and operating income for the period ended March 31, which executives attributed to the success of "Black Panther." The film opened to $202.0 million and left theaters with $1.49 billion in total revenue and $794.3 million in net profit, according to analysis from Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence. That makes "Black Panther" Disney's second-most profitable film in the Marvel-Avengers universe domestically to date, behind only 2012's "Marvel's The Avengers", which scored higher net profits but also incurred higher costs.

This quarter, Disney's investors and executives are watching "Infinity War" double down on the studio's 2018 prospects. "Infinity War" has already broken the record for the highest domestic opening ever, beating other blockbusters like Disney's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," and Universal Studios' "Jurassic World." With "Infinity War" Disney now holds the record for nine of the 10 largest domestic box office openings of all time, CEO Bob Iger said on a May 8 earnings conference call. Kagan estimates "Infinity War" could collect total revenue of $1.70 billion by the time it exits theaters, nearing "Marvel's The Avengers" $1.77 billion finish. Disney's third fiscal quarter will likely get another boost from "Solo: A Star Wars Story" coming in May.

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Disney's studio entertainment revenue gained 21% year over year to $2.45 billion for the period ended March 31, 2018, while operating income jumped 29% to $847 million. The result was particularly notable given tough year-over-year comparisons due to the strong performance of "Beauty and the Beast," "Rogue One," and "Moana" a year earlier, CFO Christine McCarthy said on the company's May 8 earnings call.

Annual studio entertainment revenue for Disney's fiscal 2017 ended Sept. 30 of that year was down 11% in comparison to fiscal 2016. The studio segment's fiscal 2016 included results from the record-smashing "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," as well as "Finding Dory" and "Captain America: Civil War." Prior to "Black Panther," "Civil War" was Marvel's most recent film among the studio's top five revenue drivers. It opened to $179.1 million in May 2016 and recorded total revenue of $1.21 billion. Disney's studio entertainment segment reported $8.38 billion in revenue for fiscal 2017, down from $9.44 billion in fiscal 2016.

Despite the success of Marvel Studios, Disney's media networks and parks and resorts remain a larger share of the company's total revenue. Studio entertainment revenue accounted for 15% of Disney's total revenues in fiscal 2017, down from 17% in fiscal 2016.

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