Joining me in Burbank today are Bob Iger, Disney's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; and Jay Rasulo, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Bob's going to lead off, followed by Jay, and then, of course, we'll be happy to take your questions.So with that, I'll turn it over to Bob and we'll get started. Robert A. Iger Thank you very much, Lowell. Good afternoon. We're very pleased with the company's strong performance in the second quarter with earnings per share up 18% over last year when adjusted for comparability. Growth in advertising and affiliate fees in Media Networks as well as greater attendance and guest spending in our parks and resorts primarily drove our performance. There are many exciting things happening across our businesses starting with The Avengers, which, as all of you know, shattered industry box office records, achieving the biggest domestic opening weekend of all time with $207.1 million. The movie set new opening weekend records in several other countries as well, bringing its worldwide box office gross to more than $700 million to date. It's a fantastic movie, and we're obviously thrilled that audiences around the world share that opinion. It's also a great illustration of why we like Marvel so much: great characters, great storytelling and the wonderful ability for them to bring their characters and stories to the big screen so effectively. Ironman, Thor and Captain America initially brought those compelling characters to millions of people, leading to the tremendous success we're now seeing with The Avengers. And we'll continue to build on this incredible franchise with the release of Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 next year, followed by Captain America 2 in 2014. And since I'm sure I will be asked, yes, we are in development on a sequel to Avengers.
There’re obviously numerous benefits to creating such a valuable franchise, and one of them is in our Consumer Products business, where our combined Disney-Marvel licensing team is hard at work bringing those characters to market in multiple ways, significantly growing our retail presence around the world. And based on early figures, the demand for Avengers merchandise has been very strong.We actually have a lot of other great new movies on the way as well, starting with Disney/Pixar's BRAVE, a brilliant action-adventure featuring Pixar's first female hero. And then later this year, we're looking forward to Frankenweenie, Tim Burton's heartwarming twist on the classic monster movie, as well as Disney Animation's Wreck-It Ralph, which takes viewers into the world of classic video arcade games. And next year, we've got Oz The Great and Powerful, as well as Johnny Depp's Tonto in The Lone Ranger and a Monsters, Inc. prequel from Disney-Pixar. We've also got plenty to be excited about in our other businesses. Our media networks, ESPN, Disney Channels, ABC, ABC Family [ph] plus our equity stakes in A&E, History and Lifetime [ph] , represent an incredibly valuable growth-driving segment for us with multiple revenue streams supported by strong, high-quality, creative content leveraged across territories and on many new digital platforms. It's almost a cliché to mention ESPN as the strongest brand in media, but it continues to strengthen and to grow. And in 2011, more adults 18 to 49 watched ESPN than any other 24-hour cable network. And fans are spending more time with ESPN-branded media on TV, online and on a variety of mobile devices than any other sports brand. ESPN delivers tremendous value to distributors with an unparalleled content array that helps to drive broadband subscriptions, local ad sales and HD upgrades. And with numerous sports rights agreements in place into the next decade, including the NFL, the ACC, the SEC, Pac-12 and Wimbledon, and long-term agreements in place with 2 of the largest multichannel providers, ESPN is obviously quite well positioned to remain the preeminent sports brand.
It's also worthy of noting that as of today, Comcast subscribers can download the WatchESPN app that brings the total number of subscribers that can now access ESPN's channel on mobile devices to 40 million.Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com