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Disney’s ‘Wish’ Fails to Make Magic at the Box Office, Faces Challenges in Streaming Era

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The much-anticipated film, designed to commemorate Disney’s 100th anniversary, was predicted to debut with earnings ranging from $40 million to $50 million. However, it managed only $31.7 million domestically over the five-day holiday weekend, leaving analysts and industry insiders surprised.

News Today Live: Gitesh Pandya, founder and editor of Box Office Guru, expressed concern, stating, “The numbers on [Wish] were really low, even by Disney standards and Thanksgiving standards.”

Wish found itself competing at the box office with formidable contenders, such as Napoleon, Ridley Scott’s historical epic, and The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. While Napoleon secured an estimated $32.5 million, Songbirds and Snakes garnered $42 million, maintaining its dominance for a second consecutive weekend.

So, what contributed to Wish’s underperformance?

The film faced challenges unique to the current entertainment landscape, where streaming has significantly altered viewing habits. According to David A. Gross of Franchise Entertainment Research, the industry’s pivot to streaming during the pandemic impacted the theatrical experience. Traditional release windows blurred, and audiences became accustomed to watching theatrical stories at home, diminishing the value of the big screen.

Additionally, the actors’ strike until Nov. 8 hampered the film’s promotional efforts, limiting the cast’s ability to generate pre-release buzz. With an oversaturation of streaming options, viewers became less committed to exploring new content, contributing to Wish’s struggle at the box office.

What does this mean for the long term?

The film industry’s reluctance towards original stories, as highlighted by Walt Hickey in his book “You Are What You Watch,” played a role in Wish’s challenges. Attempting to blend nostalgia with originality, Wish received mixed reviews, with only 50% of critics approving on Rotten Tomatoes.

Hickey suggests that Wish may still find success, drawing parallels to Disney’s 2021 release, Encanto, which initially faced a lukewarm reception but gained momentum through positive word of mouth, ultimately becoming a box office success.

As for Disney’s future, Gross points to the promising entry, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, scheduled for May 2024, as a strong contender.

Looking ahead, families coming together for the holidays could provide a boost for Wish, echoing the turnaround experienced by Elemental, a Disney-Pixar release that initially struggled but gained momentum through word of mouth, reaching nearly $500 million in total earnings.

Hickey emphasizes the importance of striking a balance between exploiting nostalgia and introducing new concepts to avoid relying solely on established franchises. He states, “You never want to be in a position where you’re only exploiting nostalgia-based entertainment and not coming up with anything new because, at a certain point, the well’s going to go dry.”

In conclusion, Disney’s ‘Wish’ faces challenges in a changing entertainment landscape, but its fate remains uncertain, with potential for a rebound in the weeks to come.

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