Disney Engineered Their Own “Biggest Flop of the Year”

in Disney, Movies

Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow screaming with the Haunted Mansion from 'Haunted Mansion' in the background

Credit: Inside the Magic

Over the years, The Walt Disney Company has maintained a prominent role in the world of theme park entertainment. They have consistently provided outstanding guest experiences and employed state-of-the-art technology in their parks across the globe. Disney is renowned for being at the forefront, whether it’s integrating augmented reality into rides like the Haunted Mansion or utilizing advanced drone technology in their renowned nighttime displays. Despite Disney’s dedicated pursuit of quality, there could be instances where they fall short of achieving that lofty benchmark.

Walt Disney with Mickeys
Credit: D23

Related: Disney Sponsors Real Ghost Investigation Into Haunted Mansion

The Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, is renowned as “The Happiest Place On Earth,” a term introduced by Walt Disney and upheld over the company’s journey. As years went by, Disney’s reach expanded worldwide, including places such as the Walt Disney World Resort and the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. The influence of the Disney Resort brand reached even farther, encompassing well-known spots like the Tokyo Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, Shanghai Disney Resort, and Disneyland Paris Resort.

And a common trait among nearly all of them? A Haunted Mansion ride, or spiritually similar attraction.

Credit: Disney Parks

On August 9, 1969, The Haunted Mansion opened its gates at Disneyland, becoming one of the inaugural attractions at the park’s New Orleans Square. Over time, this immersive creation (which Walt Disney himself unfortunately never saw completed) has evolved into a cherished and enduring element of Disney park history. The ride is more than famous for its unforgettable characters, the catchy tune “Grim Grinning Ghosts,” and its timeless charm.

Disney had clear hopes for replicating the success of their biggest park-ride-turned-movie-franchise ever, Pirates of the Caribbean with a whole new park ride- inspired new film.

Disney’s Self-Created Seasonal “Flop”

Eddie Murphy in 'Haunted Mansion' (2003)
Credit: Disney

Related: Disney Slammed After Documentary Exposes “Trainwreck” Behind the Scenes

Have you heard of Haunted Mansion (2023)? No, we aren’t referring to the Eddie Murphy-led movie from 2003, but Disney’s Haunted Mansion, which hit theaters on July 28, 2023.

Haunted Mansion (2023) was directed by Justin Simien, who worked with a screenplay by Katie Dippold. Rosario Dawson starred as single mom Gabbie, while LaKeith Stanfield portrayed paranormal investigator Ben Matthias. They were joined by Chase W. Dillon as Travis, Gabbie’s son, Owen Wilson as Kent, a priest, Tiffany Haddish as Harriet, the psychic, Danny DeVito as Bruce, a college history professor, Jared Leto as Alistair Crump/Hatbox Ghost, and Jamie Lee Curtis as Madame Leota. Hasan Minhaj, Dan Levy, and Winona Ryder also acted in cameo roles.

Lindsay Lamb as The Bride in Disney's HAUNTED MANSION
Credit: Disney

Recently, news outlets have reported on the dismal earnings of Disney’s Haunted Mansion, with the film just crossing $85M at the global box office, according to The Hollywood Handle. The film unfortunately had a budget of around $150M, making it so that the film would have to double its current earnings to pass the break even point.

This did not go unnoticed by members of the public like Twitter (now X) user @NicholasPas5, who commented that this was Disney’s “biggest flop of the year”:

Oh my god it’s been out almost a month and it STILL hasn’t crossed $100M WORLDWIDE!????

This might just be Disney’s biggest flop of the year

Immediately, there was a huge response from users like The Public Enemies Podcast on the platform who were shocked that The Walt Disney Company had even considered releasing the spooky movie outside of the dedicated Halloween spooky season:

The Public Enemies Podcast: Why wasn’t this given a fall release date??? I’d go see this around Halloween

Nicholas: Makes no sense

Unfortunately, many Disney fans themselves indicated that they had not even heard of this movie releasing — like @BlueOliv101:

@BlueOliv101: This movie is out????

Nicholas: Been out since late July lol

Others had not even heard of this movie’s existence, like @sp1337art and Ignacio Panes:

@sp1337art: I didn’t know this movie existed until a few days before it released like was there barely any marketing?

@PanesIgnacio: I didn’t knew it existed until this post

Overall, the general consensus was that Disney absolutely orchestrated their own downfall here by making the odd decision to release the film outside of “spooky season”:

@TheLadyGamer12: It’s their own fault for not releasing it in October like seriously who’s bright idea was it to put their theme park spooky movie remake in July?

Andrew Mohrman: Well to make matters worse, it was never scheduled for fall. This versions release was first set for March 10th 2023 for some reason before being sent to August then up to July. It NEVER even occurred to Disney to release it in Spooky Season

User @Nic_castle_ summarizes things pretty well:

Weird release date (should’ve released in fall), almost zero marketing, and short theatre run always doomed it. It’s kinda sad because I thought it was actually a decent movie but it was never gonna cross 500m or anything crazy

What could have motivated Disney to do this film so dirty?

Well, several theories naturally arise. One (unfortunate) possibility could be that Disney decided at some point that advertising and marketing the movie would just be not worth it, and decided to cut their losses. Having the release, premiere and promotional period timed almost perfectly with the ongoing and concurrent writer’s (WGA) and actor’s (SAG-AFTRA) strikes also meant that no actors could do promo work for the film during its theatrical run.

At the end of the day, it is extremely odd that a clearly Halloween-coded film be released in the middle of summer, though — but perhaps Disney’s oddly roundabout plan would be to get this film onto Disney+ before the spooky period. This is an extremely odd way to go about making that happen, however.

Why do you think Disney released Haunted Mansion during the mid-summer period instead of Halloween? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


in Disney, Movies

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