This weekend, Walt Disney Studios released its latest live-action film, “Haunted Mansion”, which is about a woman and her son who enlist a motley crew of so-called spiritual experts to help rid their home of supernatural squatters.  “Haunted Mansion” features an all-star cast ensemble cast including LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, Chase W. Dillon and Daniel Levy, with Jamie Lee Curtis and Jared Leto as The Hatbox Ghost.

However, the film has failed to make a dent at the box office, pulling in just $24 million in the US and Canada, and a further $9.1 million in another 35 countries around the world.  The film still needs to launch in many other countries like the UK and Australia in August, but generally, the opening weekend has been a huge disappointment for a film that cost $150 million.

Without a doubt, this summer has been a flood of major films that have disappointed at the box office, with “Indiana Jones and the Dial Of Destiny”, Pixar’s “Elemental”, along with the latest instalments of the “Mission Impossible”, DC Superheroes and “Transformers”.

Plus, there is also the “Barbenheimer” phenomenon, where “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” have become huge hits around the world as fans flock to the cinemas in numbers not seen since “Avengers: Endgame”.    No doubt, had Disney known what “Barbenheimer” was going to be, they would have delayed the film, but I don’t think anyone saw that coming.

But perhaps the biggest question from people about “Haunted Mansion”, is why was a film, that seemed naturally suited to being released in cinemas for the Halloween period, released in the middle of the summer.   Disney has made similar mistakes with “Hocus Pocus” and the first “Haunted Mansion” film.

Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations, explained to Variety:

“Disney definitely missed the memo trying to launch their spooky pic in the middle of summer.  While horror can certainly succeed at any time on the release calendar, this family friendly product would have been much better served in the fall and sheltering clear of all the summer popcorn pics.”

The film is based on the classic theme park attraction, “Haunted Mansion”, and while many of us aren’t thinking of Halloween, today, on the last day of July, Halloween decorations have already begun popping up in Main Street in the Magic Kingdom theme parks!  And at the end of next week, Disney will be kicking off its Mickey’s Not So Scary Parties.    And if you visit Disney’s official online store, ShopDisney, it’s full of new Halloween merchandise to purchase.    In Disney’s world, Halloween starts now!

However, there is also another big reason why “Haunted Mansion” has been released in July. While the film will continue to pull in audiences throughout the summer holidays, the film will now be available for viewers at home in time for the spooky holiday.

If Disney continues their trend of releasing films on digital platforms to buy after sixty days, it means “Haunted Mansion” will likely hit digital retailers at the end of September and on physical media in October.  And if Disney keeps the 90-day rule in place for its Disney+ releases, the film should arrive on Disney+ just in time for the Halloween week.  Meaning that Disney can utilise the film for the whole season.

Disney obviously won’t reveal its official digital or Disney+ release dates for a while, since it wants people to go to the cinema during the summer, but releasing “Haunted Mansion” in cinemas in October would mean Disney would lose out on any benefit the spooky season gives to digital sales and the Disney+ release for Halloween.  Having this movie hit digital, physical and Disney+ during Christmas wouldn’t work as well.  It would also mean the film would have to go up against lots more horror-related films in October, such as “Saw X”, “The Exorcist: Believer”, and “Five Nights at Freddy’s”.

While for many, Disney releasing “Haunted Mansion” so early in the summer seems a mistake, Disney is trying to ensure it hits every market possible in the run-up to Halloween.

Do you think “Haunted Mansion” should have been released early?  Let us know on social media!

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Roger Palmer

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. Email: Twitter: Facebook:

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