The Quorum

Disney Update: WISH on the rise, THE MARVELS is slipping

Last month, we noted that Disney has two remaining releases for the year. THE MARVELS will go a long way toward seeing if superhero fatigue has spread beyond the DC universe to the MCU. And WISH, Disney’s Thanksgiving release, is the studio’s opportunity to right the ship after several animation misfires, including STRANGE WORLD, its 2022 Thanksgiving offering.

One month later, how do these two films look? There’s some good news and some bad news.

First, the good news. The numbers for WISH are on the rise.

To begin with, let’s look at some historicals. The table below shows all the animated films that opened on Thanksgiving weekend since 2014. MOANA and COCO sit at the top of the list with openings above $50M (Note: these are all Friday-Sunday grosses).

The table also shows that Disney’s last two holiday releases, ENCANTO and STRANGE WORLD, are at the low end with $27M and $12M openings, respectively. Disney would no doubt like to see WISH perform better than these two. So, let’s see how the numbers stack up.

A month ago, awareness for WISH (dark yellow) was in line with ENCANTO (brown) and STRANGE WORLD (light yellow). But it has surged to 37% since then, well above the other two films.

It’s a similar story on the interest side. WISH (dark blue) soared from 42% to 47% over the past month. It is now comfortably above the other two films. 

The Quorum’s opening weekend projection for the film has climbed from $30M-$35M to $33M-$38M (Friday-Sunday). Those projections could climb even higher if it continues its upward swing. 

The news is less encouraging for THE MARVELS. While the tracking for WISH has been sharply on the rise, the gains for THE MARVELS have been far more modest. Over the past month, awareness has climbed 5 points, but interest has stagnated.

Three weeks ago, The Quorum’s initial opening weekend projection was between $95M and $104M. Today, that projection has slipped to $80M-$89M. Should MARVELS open to $85M (mid-way through its current forecast), it would not only be down significantly from CAPTAIN MARVEL, but also represent a continuation in the downward trend for Marvel movies. 

The chart below shows the opening weekend for all MCU titles. Grosses reached a crescendo with AVENGERS ENDGAME just before the pandemic. This was followed by a COVID-related fallow period, then a post-pandemic peak with SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME. 

Since then, however, openings have been trending down. Now, it’s true that we would expect lower grosses for non-AVENGERS titles. That’s fair. But, it’s hard to argue against fatigue when you see that MARVELS is on a path to possibly opening to half of CAPTAIN MARVEL’s (black bar) $153M debut.

The numbers for MARVELS may rebound. But it would be remarkable to see it get anywhere close to the opening for CAPTAIN MARVEL.

If this downward trend is the new norm, it raises several important questions. The greatest among them being, how does theatrical mitigate the loss of superhero grosses? What will prop up the box office when the strongest genre begins to show weakness?

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