Back in 2019, Disney was releasing one major billion-dollar box office hit after another, and it didn’t look like they could put a foot wrong, but then the pandemic threw everything off, cinemas were closed, and audience habits changed, years later, the box office on the whole is still massively down. While Disney has been releasing many films, it has had very patchy results, with audiences not turning up to watch the latest animated or Marvel film.
There have been many reasons why this has been happening. They’ve had some success with a couple of billion-dollar films, such as with “Avatar: The Way Of Water” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home”, but they are far apart. Audiences getting used to watching from home, superhero fatigue, and franchise burnout, are all valid reasons why Disney has been unable to get back on top, but there is also much more to it than that. Disney has annoyed many conservative families over some of its political and content decisions, which Disney is now trying to distance itself from.
Many have said that the Disney content engine has become broken, especially as Disney has pushed out so much content onto its streaming services to try to chase subscribers, which has caused some quality issues.
Earlier this year, Disney CEO Bob Iger spoke about how he plans to fix these issues, which included slowing down how many releases some of the studios put out and making a more curated list of content. And during this week’s latest quarterly financial results investors call, Bob was asked what he’s doing to fix the film slate going forward. To which he replied:
In terms of the studio, nice of you to mention just what our great run. First of all, let’s put things in perspective recently. We did have four really strong titles in four of the top 10 in the past year, led by Avatar, of course, but there are other successes, too. That said, as I have looked at our overall output, meaning the studio, it’s clear that the pandemic created a lot of challenges creatively for everybody, including for us.
In addition, at the time the pandemic hit, we were leaning into a huge increase in how much we were making. And I’ve always felt that quantity can be actually a negative when it comes to quality. And I think that’s exactly what happened. We lost some focus.
And so, working with the talented team at the studio, we’re looking to — and working to consolidate, meaning make less, focus more on quality. We’re all rolling up our sleeves, including myself to do just that. We have, obviously, great assets, great stories to tell from the assets that we either have or that we purchased. And I feel really optimistic about the slate going forward, which is going to be a balance between some really strong sequels to some very, very popular titles as well as some good original content, starting with Wish, which comes out Thanksgiving weekend.
So, I feel good about the direction we’re headed, but I’m mindful of the fact that our performance from a quality perspective wasn’t really up to the standards that we set for ourselves.
While many great films and shows have come out of Disney’s studios over the past few years, there is little doubt that the studio wasn’t hitting properly. It’s easy to see how the studios were pressured into creating much more content to fuel the launch of Disney+, and that took its toll, especially on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where the quality drastically reduced. It was similar with lots of animated films and other projects, just not hitting that high-quality benchmark that we’ve seen before.
And it’s important to note, that with Disney addressing these issues, taking steps to fix what hasn’t been working and acting on it, it will likely take years to do, but Disney has had to do this before. Over the past 100 years of the Walt Disney Company, there have been many periods of Disney’s films and shows quality dipping, only for the company to readjust and come back stronger.
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Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.