Disney Is The Big Loser Of Summer 2023 – Examining Its $900 Million Worth Of Box Office Disappointments


  • Disney’s summer of 2023 has been disappointing, with $900 million in box office disappointments. The company’s underperforming movies have led to a significant loss.
  • The Little Mermaid fell short of expectations, making only $561 million with a budget of $250 million. It didn’t reach the break-even point and ended up losing money.
  • Disney’s only major success of the summer was Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which grossed $844.9 million and proved to be both a critical and commercial success.

Disney has had a pretty disappointing summer of 2023, with the company’s $900 million worth of box office disappointments making Disney the big loser of the film industry this season. Disney has always been a titan when it comes to film, releasing beloved animated and live-action movies that are often critical and commercial successes. Disney owns the MCU, Star Wars, Avatar, and a massive backlog of iconic classics. Despite this, Disney has struggled to keep its momentum throughout the summer of 2023, with several big box office failures causing the company to lose an estimated $900 million across several underperforming movies.

Going into 2023, Disney had a pretty impressive slate of films that matched any of the company’s most successful years. The company was releasing Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 from Marvel, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny from Lucasfilm, Elemental from Pixar, a new Haunted Mansion movie, and a live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. Despite these massive IP films, many of them underperformed, leading to a pretty disappointing summer for Disney. This amount of failures is unprecedented, meaning that Disney’s $900 million worth of box office disappointments require some serious examination.

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The Little Mermaid’s Box Office Was Disappointing (Did It Bomb?)

Disney’s trend of making live-action remakes of animated classics has seriously paid off in recent years, with movies like Maleficent, Cinderella, and The Jungle Book being incredibly profitable. Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King each broke $1 billion at the box office, with the latter even being the highest-grossing animated movie of all time. Although the reception of these remakes has started to sour, it was expected that The Little Mermaid would be as big of a success as its predecessors. However, it turned out that this wasn’t the case.

The Little Mermaid made a little over $561 million, which would be a massive success for most movies. However, the film had a production budget of $250 million, which makes this number a little less impressive. These budgets don’t account for marketing or distribution, meaning that the rule of thumb in Hollywood is that the break-even point is typically somewhere around 2.5 times the budget. This means that The Little Mermaid would start turning a profit once it got somewhere around $625 million at the box office. So, not only did The Little Mermaid miss Disney’s $1 billion mark, but it actually bombed so hard that it lost millions.

Elemental’s Opening Box Office Bombed – And Its Recovery May Not Be Enough

Elemental from Pixar

Another one of Disney’s expected box office wins was Pixar’s Elemental. Pixar movies are frequently heavy-hitters at the box office, and while movies like Lightyear have broken this trend, the movies tend to have a solid commercial performance. However, this wasn’t the case with Elemental. Elemental had one of Pixar’s lowest-grossing opening weekends in the company’s history, starting off slow with only $29.5 million at the box office. Although the movie went on to make over $395 million, the film’s $200 million budget means that Elemental probably still wasn’t profitable. Although Elemental may get a second wind when it hits Disney+, its theatrical run didn’t pay off.

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Indiana Jones & The Dial Of Destiny Was A Massive Box Office Bomb

Indy smiles on a train in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny was set to be one of Disney’s biggest hits of the year, with the film being part of a well-established franchise and having a massive marketing campaign. After the company’s recent theatrical failures, Disney really needed the film to succeed, but it instead went on to be an even bigger bomb. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny was a massive failure, making only $356 million on a budget of $300 million. This means that Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny‘s box office could have lost hundreds of millions of dollars, making it one of the biggest bombs of all time.

Haunted Mansion characters looking at a crystal ball

Disney’s last major movie of summer 2023 was Haunted Mansion, and from the very start, it didn’t seem like the movie that was going to save the company. Although Haunted Mansion is still in theaters as of the writing of this article, it doesn’t seem to be doing much better than its theatrical predecessors. Haunted Mansion made only $33 million in its opening weekend, hinting that it probably won’t succeed either. Although Haunted Mansion‘s budget of $150 million is relatively small compared to the aforementioned movies, Haunted Mansion is still gearing up to bomb, ending Disney’s summer with a whimper.

Guardians Of The Galaxy 3 Is Disney’s Only Real Success Of Summer 2023

Guardians of the Galaxy members Star-Lord, Mantis, Nebula, Groot, and Drax in Vol 3

Throughout Disney’s swath of box office failures, the company has only had one real success in the summer of 2023: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has been one of the biggest successes of the year so far, grossing $844.9 million. The film’s budget of $250 million means that the movie was actually profitable, with its commercial success matching its critical success. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has been Disney’s only saving grace this year, with it standing out among the many bombs that Disney has released in theaters.

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Why Has Disney Had So Many Box Office Failures In 2023?

Jonathan Majors' Kang the Conqueror in Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania

So, what is going on? Disney has consistently released box office hits in previous years, causing many audiences to wonder why the company has had so many failures in 2023. Well, there are several factors that play into this. One of the biggest reasons is over-inflated budgets. All of the mentioned movies have incredibly high budgets, meaning that they have to get close to making $1 billion to be successful. On top of that, these IPs just aren’t reliable anymore. Viewers have soured on live-action remakes, Pixar’s Disney+ releases have cheapened the brand, and Indiana Jones and The Haunted Mansion haven’t had entries since 2008 and 2003 respectively.

On top of that, summer 2023 has been particularly crowded. These movies were released in the midst of films like Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, Barbie, and Oppenheimer. Multiple movies have been released most weekends, meaning that consumers have had more to choose from than just Disney IPs.

The final reason for Disney’s failures, however, is that most of these movies just aren’t good. The Little Mermaid, Elemental, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, and Haunted Mansion have all received mixed-to-poor reviews, with these negative receptions causing many viewers to skip out on the films. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, on the other hand, was a huge critical success, which helped in its box office performance. Disney’s consistent stream of box office flops has been caused by its consistent stream of low-quality movies, something that can only be changed by putting quality first once again.

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