In 2023, both Disney and Warner Brothers will celebrate their 100-year anniversaries. So far, none are going too well. Both movie studios are losing money big time, but why? In this article, I will break down the slow decline of the box office.
Disney has always been an entertainment giant. For an entire century, Mickey Mouse has slowly expanded his grip on the world, buying more and more franchises and studios (Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and Fox just to name a few), and in the process has made more money than Scrooge McDuck. But recently, the company’s movie studios have fallen on some hard times, and now that Covid is dwindling down, there are no excuses. Since the 2023 Calendar Year began, Disney has released many notable (and blockbuster level) films, such as Ant-Man 3 (Live Action, Marvel), Guardians of the Galaxy 3 (Live Action, Marvel), the Little Mermaid (Live Action Adaptation), and Elemental (Animated). One thing similar about all of these movies: They all had budgets over 200 million dollars. These enormous budgets would be fine if Disney was able to do what Disney did in the past, which was simply attract enough audiences to turn a profit, however now they may have to rethink their strategy. All four of these movies need more than 500 million dollars just to break even, when accounting for marketing, distribution costs (theater money) and the production budget. So far, Ant-Man 3 and the live action Little Mermaid both flopped, with each film failing to make over 500 million dollars. While Elemental has only been out for a Weekend, it is also looking to be a flop, making just 50 million dollars so far. Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is the only one of these films to succeed, making over 800 million dollars. And considering Disney is about to release Indiana Jones 5 with a budget of almost 300 million dollars, I don’t think Disney is catching any breaks.
On the other hand, Warner Brothers is also becoming a century old this year, and like Disney, is also facing major troubles. However, while Disney’s problem is with budgets, Warner Brother’s problem is just making films no one wants to watch. The studio has two major successful franchises: Harry Potter, and the DC Universe. The last Harry Potter movie was more than a decade ago, and its spinoff franchise (Fantastic Beasts) last film bombed. On the other hand, DC Superheros hasn’t worked out for them either, because despite having Batman, Superman, Flash, and Wonder Woman, the franchise still hasn’t made much money, with many films being considered box office bombs. The good thing is that they are planning on rebooting the DC Universe, which will hopefully bring Warner Brothers back to their past glory.
Despite these two companies doing badly, there is one company that isn’t: Universal. Universal has consistently made money by sticking to major brands (Jurassic World), giving people what they want (A Mario movie), and budgeting well (Budgets rarely go over 200 million dollars). Maybe Warner Brothers and Disney should take a page from Universal.