Disney profits surge thanks to ‘Black Panther’


The superhero powers of “Black Panther” shine on.

The blockbuster movie’s $1.3 billion global box office helped Disney’s studio entertainment unit post a 21 percent spike in revenue in the first quarter, the Mouse House said Tuesday.

The Ryan Coogler-helmed film helped the unit post a 29 percent rise in operating profit, to $847 million — in a three-month period in which Disney’s media networks’ results were less dynamic.

The $202 million opening for “Black Panther” helped Disney score nine of the 10 largest opening weekends ever.

The combined strong performance of the film unit helped offset Disney’s television business, which is struggling from an industrywide decline in pay-TV viewership.

Disney’s results were also propped up by its theme parks business, which saw a 13 percent rise in revenue aided by an uptick in attendance and ticket prices.

For the quarter ended March 31, net income attributable to Disney rose 23 percent, to $2.94 billion, or $1.95 a share.

Excluding items, EPS totalled $1.84, better than analysts’ expectation of $1.69 per share.

Sales increased 9.1 percent, to $14.55 billion just exceeding the $14.08 billion Wall Street was looking for.

While income from its parks and resorts business rose 27.2 percent, to $954 million, and its studio division’s profit 29 percent, to $847 million, income for Disney’s TV business shriveled 6.3 percent, to $2.08 billion.

The TV business was hampered by a decline in advertising revenues, lower income from program sales and higher network programming and marketing costs, Disney said.

Nonetheless, the Burbank, Calif.-based firm highlighted a slate of upcoming movies, including “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” “Incredibles 2,” “Frozen 2,” “Avengers 4” and “Star Wars: Episode 9,” which are expected to prop up company results through 2019.

Iger touted Disney’s streaming service, which will launch in late 2019, as a vehicle for new content from its $52.4 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s TV and film assets. That deal has yet to close and is still under regulatory review.

The Mouse House is also going to great lengths to make a splash in sports content that will live online.

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