NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Walt Disney Company (DIS) handed the summer movie box-office a late-season rush over the weekend with its $94 million record-breaking domestic ticket haul for little-known superhero film Guardians of the Galaxy. Worldwide sales topped $160.4 million, well over estimates given the film's focus on a tertiary franchise outside of sure bets such as Marvel's Iron Man.
While Guardians sales aren't included in Disney's third-quarter ended June 30, the success bodes well for healthy growth at the company headed by CEO Bob Iger heading into its earnings report after the close of trading on Tuesday.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters anticipate $2.03 billion, or $1.16 a share, in net income, compared to $1.88 billion, or $1.03 a share, during the same period a year earlier. Revenue estimates of $12.16 billion represent a 5% increase.
It's expected Burbank, Calif.-based Disney will record year-over-year growth in its three largest divisions: studio entertainment (which includes DVDs and box office sales), media networks (featuring broadcast and cable properties such as ESPN and ABC), and parks and resorts (such as at flagship sites in Anaheim, California and Orlando, Florida),
Despite overall summer box office revenue down as much as 20% year over year, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Maleficent should give studio entertainment's topline a boost, said Hudson Square Research's Jeffrey Logsdon in a note. The Sleeping Beauty reinterpretation starring Angelina Jolie in the eponymous role has held its spot as the second-highest-grossing film domestically this season, surpassed only by Transformers: Age of Extinction. Since its May 30 debut, the film has generated $234.7 million in North American markets. The April release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier was also a hit, generating worldwide gross of $713.24 million, nearly double its 2011 predecessor.
Frozen should continue to pad Disney's topline nine months after its initial domestic theatrical debut, thanks to a staggered international release and continued demand in digital and home video. Its success in Japan, in particular, should boost revenue -- released mid-March, the film racked up more than $250 million through its 19-week cinematic run, becoming the third-highest-grossing flick in Japan.
On the bottom line, success in those properties should fare comparatively well. In the year-ago quarter, operating income tumbled 36% as exorbitant marketing costs for tent-pole flop The Lone Ranger (a $215 million production which generated only $89.3 million domestically) took a bite out of the summer's number one hit Iron Man 3.