June 18, 2024

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Disney needs an animation hit: Is it Wish?

2 min read

Ariana DeBose stars as Asha in Disney’s new animated film “Wish.”


Disney is wishing on a shooting star this week, hoping that its celebratory 100th anniversary film “Wish” will mark a turning point for its beleaguered animation division and jumpstart the Thanksgiving box office.

The House of Mouse posted its biggest year ever theatrically in 2019 — with a whopping seven films surpassing $1 billion in global ticket sales — but has yet to recapture that magic even after relaxed Covid restrictions brought moviegoers back to cinemas.

Its Marvel Cinematic Universe films have been hit-or-miss with audiences, with “The Marvels” most recently opening to an all-time franchise low. But Disney’s animation arm, which has ruled the box office for decades, has had more rotten eggs than golden ones in the last three years.

Much of Disney’s troubles have stemmed from executive decisions to pad its fledgling streaming service Disney+ with content, stretching its creative teams thin, and sending theatrical movies during the pandemic straight to digital.

This has been particularly apparent with Disney’s animated features, both from its Walt Disney Animation studio and from Pixar. Parents, confused about when and where animated films from the studio were being released, didn’t show up to theaters. And the films that were released weren’t all well-received by critics or audiences.

This has had a direct impact on the key Thanksgiving holiday, which Disney has long dominated at the box office.

Disney declined to comment for this story.

Feast or famine

The week of Thanksgiving is typically a robust time at the box office, a tradition for many families who gather during extended time off from school and work.

In the last decade, not counting 2020, 2021 and 2022, the five-day Thanksgiving spread — from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving through Sunday — has resulted in more than $250 million in ticket sales each year.

Many of those weekends were fueled by Disney animation hits as well…

2023-11-21 18:00:01

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