Disney has to come to terms with the ever-changing public taste and the evident shortcomings of their million-dollars productions.
Disney has always been at the top of its game and affirms its status with high-grossing movies produced by Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Pixar. However, recent days have witnessed the gradual decline of Disney productions, with 4 newly released movies failing to hit the $1 billion mark.
The start of Disney’s decline
“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is the first disappointment. This is Marvel’s first movie with a loss of dozens of millions of USD after it hit theaters. It was also under criticism from both general audiences and Marvel fans.
“The Little Mermaid” live-action was expected to help Disney recover from such a loss, but it still could not reach the desirable revenues. Pixar’s “Elemental” was Disney’s another attempt at recovering what was lost but failed once again. “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” – a new installment of a highly-respected franchise – with a budget of nearly 300 million USD could also not draw audiences or hardcore fans to the nearest cinemas.
In theory, all these movies contain the necessary ingredients for success. Therefore, it is logical to look at Disney’s operation in producing new movies.
According to Variety, “Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is expected to make it big in cinemas with a budget of 385 million USD. This is the first time since 2014 that Disney has not had any movie recording 1 billion USD in revenue (excluding two years in the pandemic). In the past, Disney proudly boasted blockbuster hits such as “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” – the third highest-grossing movie of all time globally. In 2019, Disney accumulated 7 movies crossing the $1 billion milestone. Time has changed, and Disney has to face up to a long delayed problem.
What is driving Disney to failure?
What leads to this failure? Speaking of the movie’s contents, the feedback is not so positive. New movies are regarded to be insignificant. The recent installment of “Ant-Man” was criticized so heavily that viewers started questioning if the movie itself was necessary for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Variety also pointed out several problems that have been plaguing Disney and its “magical kingdom.” The first problem is budget. An average Disney production requires a production budget of 200 million USD, along with promotional activities that may cost more than 100 million USD. This means Disney has a higher mark to reach in order to break even. This budget was reasonable in the past when each Disney movie could reach 1 billion USD in revenue. Now, the largest market for Disney – China – is no longer a warrant for its success.
Moreover, the required production time can last up to 3 to 4 years, meaning it’s not easy to notice the difference right away.
Another problem to consider is public taste. Audiences watching Disney now are not the same as audiences from 10 years ago. If Disney continues pushing for commercial movies with repetitive content, it’s almost certain, according to public and global audiences’ reactions, that it will end up with another failed production.
From a neutral standpoint, most production houses are struggling with the new, harsh reality when box-office revenues drop by approximately 20% compared to pre-pandemic periods. Nonetheless, witnessing the downfall of a long-standing production house comes as a shock to industry insiders and brings new worries to the field.
Another temporary way out?
Despite many obstacles ahead, Disney can still take the hit from revenue loss. After decades of existence, Disney has another equally lucrative income from merchandise and theme parks. Therefore, while “The Little Mermaid” cannot surpass 500 million USD in box-office revenue, the return of Ariel still kicks up sales of toys on the market.