“Wish” Experienced One of Disney’s Lowest Animated Movie Openings—Here’s Why

Hollywood Exteriors And Landmarks - 2023

Disney’s animated film “Wish” faced a lackluster box office reception last weekend, adding to its already unfavorable reviews and contributing to Disney’s recent string of financial setbacks as it grapples with the challenge of drawing audiences back to theaters. Despite early projections of a robust five-day domestic opening of up to $50 million, the film fell significantly short, grossing only $19.5 million in its three-day domestic opening and $31.7 million over the Thanksgiving weekend.

This disappointing performance placed “Wish” below the opening gross of most other Walt Disney Animation Studios films, even trailing behind some less successful releases like “Strange World” and “Raya and the Last Dragon.” The film failed to match the success of Pixar’s animated films, and critics pointed to its unclear trailer and a plot perceived as a formulaic “plug-and-play princess movie” with derivative elements as reasons for its underwhelming box office numbers.

Movie Review: Disney's 'Wish' Is a Disaster

Despite being intended as a celebration of Disney’s 100th anniversary, “Wish” was criticized for feeling more like a “corporate product” than a magical cinematic event, and some analysts suggested that audiences may be waiting to stream the film on Disney+ rather than rushing to theaters. Disney CEO Bob Iger acknowledged the studio’s box office challenges, emphasizing a shift toward prioritizing quality over quantity.

Notably, “Wish” followed other box office disappointments for Disney, including “The Marvels,” “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” and “Haunted Mansion,” all falling short of expectations. The film’s poor reviews, compounded by its failure to outperform competing films like “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes” and “Napoleon,” contributed to the broader struggles of the Thanksgiving box office, which, while showing improvement over the pandemic, has not yet reached pre-pandemic levels.

Wish - Plugged In

With a meager 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, “Wish” ranks among the worst-reviewed Disney animated films, with critics lamenting its focus on nostalgia over compelling storytelling. The film’s box office performance is viewed as part of a larger trend for Disney, prompting questions about the studio’s strategic shift toward emphasizing quality in its future releases, notably in the Marvel franchise. As the industry watches Disney’s next moves, the success of films on Disney+ raises the question of whether streaming could offer redemption for box office flops.

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