Disney movies often succeed at the box office during the holidays.
In 2017, Coco made $71 million. Then, in 2018, Ralph Breaks the Internet amassed $84.6 million. In 2019, Frozen II grossed $123.7 million during its first five days in theaters. Encanto, released in 2021, also found modest success at $40.3 million during the first five days, despite premiering during a tenuous time amid the pandemic.
But a lot has changed in the past two years.
Variety shared reports of Thanksgiving week box office sales.
2023 saw a disappointing Thanksgiving for Disney.
Wish didn’t fulfill Disney fans’ desires.
The new animated musical, which premiered on Nov. 22, failed to meet expectations after only making $19.5 over the weekend and $31.7 million in the first five days of hitting theaters.
In 2023, another movie dominated Thanksgiving week.
The Hunger Games prequel The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes grossed $28.8 over the weekend, and $98.3 total in North America since its release.
2022 was somehow a worse holiday season for Disney.
Last year, Strange World flopped at the box office, only making $18 million within the first five days in theaters.
On paper, Wish should’ve drawn in more moviegoers.
It cost a lot to make.
It had a $200 million budget. Part of what made it so expensive was the use of computer animation combined with the traditional, hand-drawn animation.
The flick has a classic Disney narrative.
When 17-year-old Asha senses there’s something awry in the Kingdom of Rosas, she makes a wish. It’s answered by Star, a ball of light who comes to save the day. But villain King Magnifico puts a threat to Asha and Star’s efforts to save the land.
Wish had a hit songwriter penning its tunes.
Five-time Grammy-nominated songwriter and pop singer Julia Michaels wrote the lyrics and part of the music for the movie.
The movie also features an all-star cast.
West Side Story’s Ariana DeBose stars as Asha, while Chris Pine takes on the role of King Magnifico. Alan Tudyk also stars as Asha’s sidekick Valentino, goat who is granted the power to speak by Star.
The movie’s release is also timed with an important milestone for Disney.
On Oct. 16, 2023, Disney celebrated its 100th anniversary.
Its co-directors worked on legendary classics.
Chris Buck co-directed Tarzan, as well as Frozen and its sequel. Fawn Veerasunthorn was a story artist on Frozen, Moana, and Ralph Breaks the Internet.
Wish had been in development for a long time.
But Wish missed the mark.
Reviews are saying the movie didn’t fulfill expectations set by Disney.
“Fails on every level.”
In his review for Vulture, Bilge Ebiri detailed what went wrong with Wish: “Unfortunately, Wish manages to be none of the things it wants to be. It is neither evocative enough of the past to work as a tribute, nor irreverent or inventive or just plain funny enough to justify its constant but half-hearted callouts. It’s the ultimate cop-out — a lifeless, uninspiring mess of bland brand management.”
“The most aggressive piece of Disney propaganda in years.”
RogerEbert.com critic Brian Tallerico summed up his biting reaction to the film, writing, “This wish feels like it didn’t fall from the sky but was crafted by a producers’ room with an eye for the highest profit margin. It leaves one wishing for something that feels human and true.”
Boston Globe‘s Odie Henderson noted that the fairy tale at the center of the movie “feels more like a corporate product than a magical event; it’s a limp dissertation on Disney’s motto that, ‘When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.'”
“So determined to be a Disney movie that it forgets to be a good movie.”
Pittsburgh Magazine‘s Sean Collier pointed out some flaws: “you’ll spend the next few minutes working out which character is which — and not actually paying attention to the story.”
“You begin to question whether Disney is in the business of creating magic or perpetuating its brand.”
Brian Eggert from Deep Focus Review writes, “The scales have tipped to the side of blatant commercialism so that, along with its ungainly animation style, the conspicuous branding distracts from the storyline. It turns the movie into a Disney billboard, and I couldn’t enjoy the story because the filmmakers kept reminding me of the company’s legacy of trademarked characters. Some people complain about the commercials before the feature presentation; here, the feature presentation is a commercial.”
The A.V. Club‘s Ray Green echoed the aforementioned reviews, remarking that Wish “is yet another movie that says we need our dreams, and that it’s heroic as well as intellectually defensible for Disney to choose wish fulfillment as its corporate and artistic purpose.”
Though Wish didn’t meet expectations, there are some exciting new animated Disney movies coming soon.
Inside Out 2
The sequel to the beloved Pixar movie is arriving on June 14, 2024.
In this new original story, a boy travels to space and befriends a group of aliens who are fascinated by his human nature. It premieres on June 13, 2025.
Disney also has some live-action remakes on the way.
Rachel Zegler stars as the titular character in this reimagining of the classic fairy tale. It hits theaters on March 20, 2025.
The original Moana movie is a fairly recent title for Disney, as it came out in Nov. 2016. However, it’ll be turned into a live action musical soon, which premieres on June 27, 2025.
Mufasa: The Lion King
The cast from the live-action Lion King reunites for this prequel, which arrives to theaters on Dec. 20, 2024.