Walt Disney Pictures

Walt Disney Pictures[2] (branded as simply Disney since 2011)[3] is an American film studio and a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Studios, which is ultimately owned by The Walt Disney Company. The subsidiary is the main producer of live-action feature films within the Walt Disney Studios unit, and is based at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. It took on its current name in 1983. Today, in conjunction with the other units of Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Pictures is regarded as one of Hollywood's "Big Six" film studios along with sister studio 20th Century Fox.[4][5] Films produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios are also released under this brand.

Walt Disney Pictures
FoundedOctober 16, 1923 (1923-10-16)
Headquarters500 South Buena Vista Street, ,
United States
Area served
Key people
Sean Bailey (president, production)
ProductsMotion pictures
ParentThe Walt Disney Studios
Footnotes / references

The 2019 remake of The Lion King is the studio's highest grossing film worldwide with $1.6 billion,[6] and Pirates of the Caribbean is the studio's most successful franchise, with two of its sequels, released in 2006 and 2011, earning over $1 billion in worldwide box office gross.[1]


The studio's predecessor (and the modern-day The Walt Disney Company's as a whole) was founded as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, by filmmaker Walt Disney and his business partner and brother, Roy, in 1923.

The creation of Mickey Mouse and subsequent short films and merchandise generated revenue for the studio which was renamed as The Walt Disney Studio at the Hyperion Studio in 1926.[7] In 1929, it was renamed again to Walt Disney Productions. The studio's streak of success continued in the 1930s, culminating with the 1937 release of the first feature-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which becomes a huge financial success.[8] With the profits from Snow White, Walt relocated to a third studio in Burbank, California.[9]

In the 1940s, Disney began experimenting with full-length live-action films, with the introduction of hybrid live action-animated films such as The Reluctant Dragon (1941) and Song of the South (1946).[10] That same decade, the studio began producing nature documentaries with the release of Seal Island (1948), the first of the True-Life Adventures series and a subsequent Academy Award winner for Best Live-Action Short Film.[11][12]


Walt Disney Productions had its first fully live-action film in 1950 with the release of Treasure Island, considered by Disney to be the official conception for what would eventually evolve into the modern-day Walt Disney Pictures.[13] By 1953, the company ended their agreements with such third-party distributors as RKO Radio Pictures and United Artists and formed their own distribution company, Buena Vista Distribution.[14]

Walt Disney Pictures

The division was incorporated as Walt Disney Pictures on April 1, 1983 to diversify film subjects and expand audiences for their film releases.[2] In April 1983, Richard Berger was hired by Disney CEO Ron W. Miller as film president. Touchstone Films was started by Miller in February 1984 as a label for their PG-rated films with an expected half of Disney's yearly 6-to-8-movie slate, which would be released under the label.[15] Berger was pushed out as a new CEO was appointed for Walt Disney Productions later in 1984, as Michael Eisner brought his own film chief, Jeffrey Katzenberg.[16] Touchstone and Hollywood Pictures were formed within that unit on February 15, 1984 and February 1, 1989 respectively.[17]

The Touchstone Films banner was used by then new Disney CEO Michael Eisner in the 1984–1985 television season with the short lived western, Wildside. In the next season, Touchstone produced a hit in The Golden Girls.[18]

David Hoberman was promoted to president of production at Walt Disney Pictures in April 1988.[19] In April 1994, Hoberman was promoted to president of motion pictures at Walt Disney Studios and was replaced as Disney president by David Vogel.[20] Vogel added the position of Hollywood Pictures in 1997, then was promoted in 1998 to head up all live action motion picture units as president of Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group.[21]


After two movies-based-on-ride by other Disney units,[22][23][24] Walt Disney Pictures selected it as a source of a line of films starting with The Country Bears (2002) and two in 2003, The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.[25] The latter film launched a film series that was followed by four sequels, with the franchise taking in more than $5.4 billion worldwide from 2003 to 2017.[22][26]

In 2010, Sean Bailey was appointed the studio's president of live-action production.[1] Under Bailey's leadership and with support from Disney CEO Bob Iger—and later Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn—Walt Disney Pictures pursued a tentpole film strategy, which included an expanded slate of original and adaptive large-budget films. Concurrently, Disney was struggling with PG-13 tentpole films outside of the Pirates of the Caribbean series, with films such as John Carter (2012) and The Lone Ranger (2013) becoming major box office bombs. However, the studio had found particular success with live-action fantasy adaptations of properties associated with their animated films, which began with the commercial success of Alice in Wonderland (2010), that became the second billion-dollar-grossing film in the studio's history.[27] With the continued success of Maleficent (2014) and Cinderella (2015), the studio saw the potential in these fantasy adaptations and officiated a trend of similar films, which followed with The Jungle Book (2016) and Beauty and the Beast (2017).[28][1] By July 2016, Disney had announced development of nearly eighteen of these films consisting of sequels to existing adaptations, origin stories and prequels.[28] Disney identified this line as "Disney Fairy Tale" in its enlarged slate announcement on October 8, 2015 with four scheduled without titles attached.[29] Literary adaptations such as The BFG (2016) and A Wrinkle in Time (2018) were also box office bombs. Despite the renewed focus on tentpole films, the studio continued to produce successful smaller-budgeted films, such as The Muppets (2011), Saving Mr. Banks (2013), and Into the Woods (2014).[1]

Walt Disney Pictures also took another push at theme park attraction-adaptations in the 2010s.[1] Tomorrowland, first to be loosely based on a theme park area,[30] was released in 2015.[25] Additional announced films have included adaptations of The Haunted Mansion[25] Mr. Toad's Wild Ride,[31] It's a Small World,[32] Tower of Terror, Jungle Cruise and Magic Kingdom.


The studio's first live-action film was Treasure Island (1950). Animated films produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar are also released by Walt Disney Pictures. The studio has released four films that have received an Academy Award for Best Picture nomination: Mary Poppins (1964), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Up (2009), and Toy Story 3 (2010).[33]

Highest-grossing films

Walt Disney Pictures has produced five live-action films that have grossed over $1 billion at the worldwide box office: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006), Alice in Wonderland (2010), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), Beauty and the Beast (2017) and Aladdin (2019);[1][34] and has released eight animated films that have reached that milestone: Toy Story 3 (2010), Frozen (2013), Zootopia, Finding Dory (both 2016), Incredibles 2 (2018), The Lion King, Toy Story 4, and Frozen II (three in 2019).

Highest-grossing films in North America[35]
RankTitleYearBox office gross
1 Incredibles 2 2018 $608,581,744
2 The Lion King 2019 $537,698,092
3 Beauty and the Beast 2017 $504,014,165
4 Finding Dory 2016 $486,131,416
5 Toy Story 4 2019 $432,752,831
6 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest 2006 $423,315,812
7 The Lion King 1994 $422,783,777
8 Toy Story 3 2010 $415,004,880
9 Frozen 2013 $400,738,009
10 Finding Nemo 2003 $380,843,261
11 Frozen II 2019 $370,600,437
12 The Jungle Book 2016 $364,001,123
13 Inside Out 2015 $356,002,827
14 Aladdin 2019 $355,258,912
15 Zootopia 2016 $341,268,248
16 Alice in Wonderland 2010 $334,191,110
17 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End 2007 $309,420,425
18 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl 2003 $305,413,918
19 Up 2009 $293,004,164
20 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 2005 $291,710,957
21 Monsters, Inc. 2001 $289,916,256
22 Toy Story 2 1999 $276,554,625
23 Monsters University 2013 $268,492,764
24 The Incredibles 2004 $261,441,092
25 Moana 2016 $248,757,044
Highest-grossing films worldwide
RankTitleYearBox office gross
1 The Lion King 2019 $1,629,598,092
2 Frozen 2013 $1,276,521,126
3 Beauty and the Beast 2017 $1,264,195,470
4 Incredibles 2 2018 $1,243,433,557
5 Toy Story 3 2010 $1,067,171,911
6 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest 2006 $1,066,179,725
7 Toy Story 4 2019 $1,058,469,072
8 Aladdin $1,047,606,364
9 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 2011 $1,045,713,802
10 Frozen II 2019 $1,037,790,508
11 Finding Dory 2016 $1,029,473,532
12 Alice in Wonderland 2010 $1,025,467,110
13 Zootopia 2016 $1,023,641,447
14 The Lion King 1994 $968,554,386
15 The Jungle Book 2016 $966,550,600
16 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End 2007 $963,420,425
17 Finding Nemo 2003 $940,335,536
18 Inside Out 2015 $857,675,046
19 Coco 2017 $807,139,032
20 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales $794,826,541
21 Maleficent 2014 $758,410,378
22 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 2005 $745,013,115
23 Monsters University 2013 $744,229,437
24 Up 2009 $735,099,082
25 Big Hero 6 2014 $657,827,828

—Includes theatrical reissue(s).

See also


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  2. "Business Entity Detail: Walt Disney Pictures (search on Entity Number: C1138747)". California Business Search. California Secretary of State. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
  3. Walker, RV (March 28, 2015). "The Disney Logo: A Brief History of its Evolution and Variations". Nerdist Industries. Retrieved October 16, 2015.
  4. Schatz, Tom. The Studio System and Conglomerate Hollywood (PDF). Blackwell Publishing. Disney also exploited new technologies and delivery systems, creating synergies that were altogether unique among the studios, and that finally enabled the perpetual “mini-major” to ascend to major studio status.
  5. Finler (2003), The Hollywood Story pp. 324–25.
  6. Mendelson, Scott (August 11, 2019). "'The Lion King' Just Broke A Disney Box Office Record, But It's Not Exactly Clear Which One". Forbes. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  7. "Chronology of the Walt Disney Company (1926)". kpolsson.com.
  8. Gabler, Neal (2007). Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination. New York: Random House. pp. 276–277. ISBN 0-679-75747-3.
  9. Schroeder, Russel (1996). Walt Disney: His Life in Pictures. New York: Disney Press.
  10. "The Walt Disney Company History". Company Profiles. fundinguniverse.com. Retrieved November 6, 2012.
  11. "The Best of Walt Disney's True-Life Adventures (1975)". NY Times Movies. New York Times. Archived from the original on January 9, 2016. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
  12. "New York Times: Seal Island". NY Times. Archived from the original on September 1, 2013. Retrieved May 18, 2008.
  13. "The Walt Disney Studios". Disney Corporate. The Walt Disney Company. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  14. Fixmer, Andy (April 25, 2007). "Disney to Drop Buena Vista Brand Name, People Say (Update1)". Bloomberg News. Archived from the original on September 18, 2011. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  15. Harmetz, Aljean (February 16, 1984). "Touchstone Label to Replace Disney Name on Some Films". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  16. Harmetz, Aljean (December 2, 1988). "COMPANY NEWS; Disney Expansion Set; Film Output to Double". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  17. Kunz, William M. (2007). "2". Culture Conglomerates: Consolidation in the Motion Picture and Television Industries. Lanham, MD.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 42, 45. ISBN 0742540650. OCLC 63245464.
  18. Andreeva, Nellie (February 9, 2007). "Touchstone TV now ABC TV Studio". The Hollywood Reporter. AP. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
  19. "PEOPLE: Los Angeles County". Los Angeles Times. April 13, 1988. Retrieved March 31, 2017.
  20. Welkos, Robert W.; Bates, James (January 11, 1995). "Disney Live Action Film Chief Quits : Studios: Hoberman's departure is a further dismantling of the former Katzenberg team". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 31, 2017.
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  22. Bacle, Ariana (April 23, 2014). "Theme park ride-based movies: Will 'Small World' follow the trend?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  23. "Disney Sets ABC Pix". Variety. May 1, 1997. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
  24. Schwarzbaum, Lisa (March 17, 2000). "Mission to Mars". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  25. Breznican, Anthony (January 28, 2013). "Disney's mysterious '1952' movie has a new name ... 'Tomorrowland'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  26. McNary, Dave; Graser, Marc (September 19, 2013). "End of an Era: Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer Part Ways". Variety. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  27. Kit, Borys (July 6, 2015). "Disney Buys Live-Action Prince Charming Project". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 20, 2017. Disney pioneered the recent and lucrative trend of taking either old animated classics or fairy tales and spinning them into live-action features.
  28. Oswald, Anjelica; Acuna, Kirsten (July 19, 2016). "Disney is planning 18 live-action remakes of its classic animated movies — here they all are". Business Insider. Retrieved March 20, 2017.
  29. Hipes, Patrick (October 8, 2015). "Disney: 'Ant Man And The Wasp' A Go, 'Incredibles 2' Dated & More". Deadline. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
  30. Kirshenblat, Eliana (October 23, 2015). "Disney's New Tower of Terror Movie Seeking a Writer". Screenrant.com. Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  31. Tully, Sarah (January 28, 2013). "Is 'Tomorrowland' movie tied to Disneyland area?". Orange County Register. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  32. Fleming, Mike (April 22, 2014). "Disney To Make 'It's A Small World' Movie: Jon Turteltaub To Direct". Deadline.com. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
  33. Tribou, Richard (January 16, 2014). "Not-so-golden year for Disney's chances at the Oscars". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved February 20, 2016.
  34. McClintock, Pamela (July 26, 2019). "'Aladdin' Casts $1 Billion Spell at Global Box Office". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
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