Disney Could Axe MCU, ‘Star Wars’ To Save Streaming Service

in Marvel, Star Wars

(L-R) Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth, and Scarlett Johannsson in 'The Avengers' (2012)

Credit: Marvel Studios

It’s no secret that Disney+ is struggling right now – but there could be a solution.

Back in 2019, Disney+ was an immediate success. Upon its launch, the platform signed up more customers in one day than HBO Now, CBS All Access + Showtime, ESPN+, DAZN, and Crunchyroll had, ever.

All of the different Disney+ titles surrounding the logo
Credit: Disney

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When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the following year, it conveniently correlated with the expansion of Disney+ into European, Asian, and South American markets. Subscribers continued to increase until early 2023, when the Walt Disney Company announced that the service had experienced its first loss – shedding a whopping 2.4 million.

Since then, the platform’s been on a downward spiral. According to Disney’s Q3 2023 Earnings Call, subscribers dropped to 146.1 million, which falls massively short of its 154.8 million goal and follows another big loss in Q2.

A hand holding a phone with the Disney+ app open
Credit: Mika Baumeister via Unsplash

Critics have pinned the platform’s struggles on multiple factors, including its lack of variety, a slow stream of new content, and too much focus on two of Disney’s biggest IPs: the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars.

Fresh off the underwhelming release of the latest Star Wars TV series, Ahsoka, one expert has claimed that the only way Disney can save the service is to ditch the two struggling franchises altogether.

Rosario Dawson in Ahsoka
Credit: Lucasfilm

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Entertainment financial analyst Valliant Renegade responded to Nielsen viewership numbers that revealed the two-episode premiere of Ahsoka only achieved 829 million minutes. Writing on X (formerly known as Twitter), he said, “Ahsoka’s viewership for the premiere measured lower than that of Book of Boba Fett when adjusted for run time. That’s AWFUL. Disney+ has added millions of subs since then. None of them are signing up for Star Wars or Marvel.”

He later added, “It’s time for Disney pull the plug on those franchises (on Disney+) because the cost to benefit ratio is WAY out of whack. They are spending too much money to produce mediocre crap at best that no where near enough people are watching to justify these obscene costs. #DisneyDumb.”

At 829 million minutes, Ahsoka was also beaten out by the premiere of Obi-Wan Kenobi and season two of The Mandalorian. As Bounding into Comics pointed out, recent Marvel efforts such as Secret Invasion and Hawkeye performed just as poorly. The streaming service also faced a major blow in 2022 when a grand total of zero Marvel series cracked the top 15 most-watched shows of the year.

All things considered, ditching Marvel and Star Wars on Disney+ isn’t as drastic an idea as it sounds. Disney CEO Bob Iger has already confirmed plans to “lower output by Marvel Studios and lower the cost per unit” – AKA cutting the ballooning budgets allocated to recent projects.

Nick Fury shocked in Marvel's 'Secret Invasion'
Credit: Marvel Studios

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When asked if that meant spacing projects out or releasing fewer shows a year, he said, “Both, I think. I think when we are doing about eight projects a year — and again, I said this is going to shift a little bit — they all have to be different. They all have to stand apart and stand alone and be different from one another.”

What this new era of Marvel and Star Wars will look like is unclear. The likelihood of Disney never producing another Marvel or Star Wars project past those already in production is, despite Valliant Renegade’s suggestions, extremely low. However, it’s clear that a focus on quality, not quantity, is the only solution to their tepid response on Disney+ – and it wouldn’t hurt to see the company diversify their streaming output.

Tom Hiddleston and crew in Marvel's 'Loki' Season 2
Credit: Marvel Studios

For now, Disney currently has eleven Marvel series in production or post-production. This includes the upcoming second season of Loki, two more seasons of What If…?Echo, Agatha: Darkhold Diaries, Ironheart, Daredevil: Born Again, Spider-Man: Freshman Year, Spider-Man: Sophomore Year, Marvel Zombies, and Wonder Man.

Meanwhile, there are at least four more seasons of Star Wars projects on the way: the fourth season of The Mandalorian, the second (and final) season of Andor, and a second season of Tales of the Jedi, as well as two new standalone shows, Skeleton Crew and The Acolyte.

What’s your favorite Marvel or Star Wars project on Disney+? Let us know in the comments!

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