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Disney’s top grossing hit screened in 1937

Disney's Snow White which screened in 1937 is its top grossing movie of all time, an example of the company's enduring brand power.

When it comes to Disney blockbusters, titles that spring to mind might be Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars or Avengers: Endgame, the latest release in the super hero genre.

But the biggest Disney blockbuster of all time might surprise you. Adjusted for inflation, the top box office hit for the studio is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs which was first released in 1937, more than 80 years ago. Snow White has been released many times since and continues to attract viewers.

According to boxofficemojo.com, a site that tallies box office ticket sales, Snow White has earned an estimated US $982 million at the box office in 2019 dollars. (Boxofficemojo is owned by the movie data base site IMDB.com.)

Snow White was Disney’s first full-length animated film and a great risk when it was released. It has since paved the way for the company’s enduring success and global brand dominance. It was an instant critical and commercial success and was re-released seven times through 1993 when it was released as a home video.

Disney’s top five grossing films including Snow White are: Star Wars: The Force Awakens  in 2015; 101 Dalmations, first released in 1961, The Lion King, in 1994 and Fantasia in 1940.

snow white
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was first screened in 1937. It has been re-released many times since. Credit: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Snow White is also one of the Top 10 all time North American box office hits. (Gone with the Wind released in 1939 remains #1.)

Disney’s success (NYSE: DIS) with these titles is an example of its enduring brand power. In any market, language and currency, the movies resonate with audiences.

They know they will get animated or live action films with family-friendly, uplifting  messages.  The brand is recognized in each market and audiences can be assured of the same quality everywhere. The consistency encourages loyalty.

Disney is ranked in the top 20 global brands by Interbrand, an international marketing firm.  It is keeping good company with the likes of  Apple, Google, and Amazon and Microsoft  ranked one through four.

Brand recognition is a powerful marketing tool for these multinationals, creating an expanding stream of revenues, dividends that tend to rise over time and stability when market conditions are choppy.

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Adam Mayers writes about investing and personal finance. He is a contributor to the Globe & Mail’s Globe Advisor and a contributing editor to Gordon Pape's Internet Wealth Builder newsletter. Adam was Business Editor and investment columnist at The Toronto Star and is the author of six books.

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