The most famous film studios in the world celebrate their century of existence – commemorative objects are already offered to amateurs and collectors. And the history of the company founded by Walt Disney, now a multinational, is punctuated with amusing or unusual facts… as well as impressive figures. Here they are!
It all started on October 16, 1923 when Walt Disney and his brother Roy Disney founded the Disney Brothers studios under the hot Hollywood sun because of Roy's tuberculosis. The Disneys immediately created a series of animated short films entitled “Alice Comedies” before, in 1927, embarking on animations with a certain Oswald the Lucky Rabbit as their hero.
Unfortunately, Walt Disney discovers that Universal Studios owns the rights to Oswald the Rabbit. Never mind, Walt asks his friend and former associate Ub Iwerks to create an endearing character. Mortimer Mouse was born in 1928, but Lilian, Walt's wife, hated his name and the mouse became… Mickey Mouse, whose first sound adventures, “Steamboat Willie”, were released the same year.
But Walt Disney is thinking big. In 1934, against Roy's advice, he decided to embark on the production of the studios' first animated feature film, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. Quickly baptized “Walt's madness” – the man will mortgage his house to finance the project – the film takes three years to leave the studios. And it is the apotheosis since the title garners more than US$8 million at the box office, even briefly holding the record for receipts for a talking film. The Disney studios are becoming a size reference… and whose weight has not been denied to this day.
Roy E. Disney, son of Roy O. and nephew of Walt was, until his death in 2009, the last member of the family to be involved in the management of the company. Today, Christopher D. Miller, grandson of Walt, is a director and has worked on “La Coccinelle à México”, Roy P. Disney, grandson of Roy O. is a producer and Abigail Disney – who regularly takes the floor to denounce certain actions of the multinational – is a producer and director.
Over the years, the Disney studios have acquired from other studios:
– 2004: purchase of the “Muppets” franchise for US$75 million
– 2006: purchase of Pixar for US$7.4 billion< /p>
– 2009: purchase of Marvel for US$4 billion
– 2012: purchase of LucasFilms for US$4.05 billion
– 2019: purchase of 20th Century Fox for $71 billion US
Over the decades, Disney has become synonymous with princesses. They are today 13 young imaginary women to hold the title of official Disney princess: Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, Rapunzel, Merida, Moana and Raya.
Since 1955, the Disney empire has included amusement parks. There are now six of them, spread over several countries around the world. There are two in the United States, one in France, one in Shanghai and one in Hong-Kong in China as well as one in Japan. The Disney Parks, Experiences and Products division, which also includes cruises, is the multinational's largest. It has approximately 130,000 employees and welcomes approximately 157.3 million visitors annually.
The box office
In 2022, Disney studios released 16 films in theaters, grossing a total of US$4.9 billion worldwide, including US$2 billion in North America. In first place? “Avatar: The Way of the Water” with worldwide receipts of US$1.3 billion. Next came “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” with box office sales of US$956 million and “Black Panther: Long Live Wakanda” with US$817 million.