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June 29, 2017

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Winner ('Rogue One'), loser ('Warcraft')

LOS ANGELES -- A forgetful fish, infighting superheroes and some intergalactic rebels led the North American box office in 2016, which, with an estimated US$11.2 billion in earnings to date, has become the highest grossing year of all time — slightly surpassing last year's US$11.1 billion record.

Those top three films, "Finding Dory," "Captain America: Civil War," and "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," all had the common thread of being under the Walt Disney Studios banner, which had its own records to celebrate.

In general, the year looked like many others, with tent pole superhero pics, animated features, sequels and reboots overpowering original fare, but there was definitely something for everyone.

"Hollywood built a wild roller-coaster ride at the multiplex in 2016, with films from every genre sparking interest from a very vocal and engaged social media-savvy audience who were able to make or break some of the biggest titles of the year," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box office tracker comScore.

A few more notable takeaways from the record-breaking year:

Disney is King, With a Few Rotten Apples

With Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, Disney Animation and a slew of live-action reboots of already beloved properties, Disney's tent pole strategy paid off big-time in 2016. The studio raked in a leading US$2.96 billion in North American grosses, with the top three spots and six out of the top 10, including "The Jungle Book," "Zootopia" and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

As Disney's distribution chief Dave Hollis noted, each of Disney's five "brands" had a film this year that became "cultural events that transcend border and language to become true global spectacles."

Disney wasn't without its own rotten tomatoes, however, with major flops like "The BFG" and "The Finest Hours." But the successes paid for the failures.

Animation Rules

For the first time since 2010 with "Toy Story 3," an animated film has topped the annual box office.

This year, it was another Pixar sequel, "Finding Dory," with a US$486.3 million North American tally.

Universal also scored big animated hits with "The Secret Life of Pets" (No. 4 with US$368.4 million) and "Sing" ( US$123.6 million after 10 days in theaters). In addition, Disney had "Zootopia" and "Moana," and DreamWorks Animation with "Trolls."

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