Disney100 To Be Forgotten as Company Loses Massive Accolade

in Movies & TV

Bob Iger presenting at the D23 Expo 2019

Credit: Nagi Usano, Flickr

This year was meant to the Disney’s shining celebration of a century’s worth of storytelling. But, the once industry leader has fallen back in with the pack and will end 2023, the Disney100 year, having lost a massive accolade.

Bob Iger close-up
Credit: Thomas Hawk, Flickr

For many of us, The Walt Disney Company has been part of our lives for as long as we can remember. Having been born in 1923, Walter Elias Disney’s company has gone on to become the driving force in worldwide entertainment. From its movie and TV output to its huge theme park business, Disney’s footprint stretches far and wide.

This year, then, marked a significant celebration for the House of Mouse — the 100 Years of Wonder. Disney100 has been everywhere: merchandise, on Disney+, in the parks, and so on. The legacy that Walt and Roy Disney started a century ago has weaved its way through the entire company.

Roy O. Disney reading a book to children on a bench at Walt Disney World Resort
Credit: D23

That said, 2023 hasn’t been completely joyful. In fact, this year has proven to be distinctly difficult for The Walt Disney Company. Upon his return to the executive office, Bob Iger — fresh from his few years away — began his aggressive cost-cutting measures in order to streamline the business on all fronts.

Iger returned in November 2022 after the surprise ousting of controversial Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Chapek. Chapek, who ended up being both Iger’s successor and predecessor, had been under scrutiny for quite some time, thanks to his operation of the company, but his firing was a shock nonetheless.

Former Disney CEO Bob Chapek and Current Disney CEO Bob Iger in front of a blue background saying The Walt Disney Company
Credit: Disney

Iger’s swift cost-cutting aimed to save $5 billion company-wide, but in doing so, he left craters across the board. Disney+ felt Iger’s axe when the streamer purged a plethora of titles from its library, including recent projects like Lucasfilm’s Willow. On November 28, Iger and other Disney heavyweights will sit down for a Town Hall, where the subject of budget cuts and stock prices is likely to arise, as well as the potential involvement of billionaire and investor Nelson Peltz, who is gunning for a board seat.

But before the Town Hall gets underway, Disney is facing another crisis. Having long been the industry-leader in movie-making, especially animation, the House of Mouse has struggled ever since the pandemic and the arrival of their own streaming service, Disney+.

Bob Iger posing in front of several screens displaying various Disney owned properties
Credit: Disney

It’s fair to say Disney’s last tentpole animation was 2019’s Frozen II (2019). Since then, Disney has failed to deliver a standout movie that has dominated the box office. During the pandemic, Disney Pixar went to a near-streaming-only format, which angered many fans and reportedly Pixar employees, too.

Pixar returned to the big screen with Lightyear (2022) — the spinoff movie to the billion-dollar Toy Story franchise. Despite its stellar cast led by Hollywood star Chris Evans, Lightyear failed to make a splash, with many bothered by its plot and characterization. The film also suffered from controversy regarding its inclusion of a same-sex kiss.

Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) traveling at lightspeed in the 'Lightyear' trailer
Credit: Disney/Pixar

Then, later on, Disney’s own Strange World (2022), starring Jake Gyllenhaal, became a box office bomb and didn’t even surpass $100 million worldwide. Accused of a lack of marketing and an unclear and generic narrative, Strange World also divided viewers over its inclusion of the company’s first openly gay teenager.

Following CEO Bob Iger’s return, which came after last year’s D23 Expo, where Disney’s Wish (2023) was announced, the executive revealed plans to make a sequel to Zootopia (2016) and new entries in the Frozen and Toy Story franchises. By returning to a trio of popular movies, all of which have grossed well into the billions, many saw this as a way to course-correct Disney’s output following a string of misfires.

Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, and Sven in 'Frozen II'
Credit: Disney

But before fans get more Nick and Judy, Anna and Elsa, and Buzz and Woody, they were to meet the latest Disney princess, Asha, played by Academy Award-winner Ariana DeBose.

Disney’s Wish is a celebration of all the magic made in the last 100 years and is inspired by the wishing star that has become synonymous with Disney storytelling. However, in spite of its larger-than-life premise, its sentimental values, and its A-list cast, Wish has fallen flat at the box office and has been heavily criticized online. At the time of publication, Wish holds a 49% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes. On the flip side, the audience score is a lot higher at 81%.

Star, Valentino, and Asha from Disney's Wish
Credit: Disney

Fans may be liking Wish more than the critics, but that doesn’t mean the new animated movie is a success. Quite the opposite, actually, as Wish has bombed at the box office, with current takings standing at $49 million.

And with this low result, Disney100 is set to be forgotten as the company loses a massive accolade.

Not including 2020 and 2021 due to the external restrictions placed on movie-going thanks to the pandemic, 2023 will be the first year in nine years that Disney has not had a billion-dollar movie. The long trend will officially end in 2023, and in a year that is meant to celebrate the everlasting values of the House of Mouse, this will be a hard pill to swallow.

Asha from Disney's 'Wish' standing in front of a door
Credit: Disney

Related: Government Gets Involved in Controversial Live-Action ‘Snow White’ Remake

Even just recently, it is exceptionally clear just what a force Disney was. In 2017, the Disney live-action remake Beauty and the Beast soared to take $1.2 billion. A year later, Marvel Studios released Avengers: Infinity War (2018), which scored $2 billion. 2019 saw immense success for Disney, with Captain Marvel (2019), Avengers: Endgame (2019), Aladdin (2019), The Lion King (2019), and Frozen II, all among those that earned a billion or more. 2022 may have been a struggle on the animation front, but James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) cleaved its way to victory with an impressive $2.3 billion.

Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) in Avatar
Credit: Disney

Related: Close to 100% of Disney Animated Film Material Damaged and Lost

2023, however, will end somewhat flat. Not even the beloved princess Ariel made enough waves to clear the hill, with Rob Marshall’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid (2023) netting just over half a million globally. Marvel Studios also massively suffered this year, with both Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023) and The Marvels (2023) struggling to make any noise during their theatrical release period. James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023) fared better, with over $800 million in takings.

It is obviously not the year Disney or Disney fans wanted, but many are looking ahead to next year and hoping that the Mouse House can once again find its footing in the movie industry.

Are you surprised that Disney hasn’t had a massive hit movie in 2023? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

in Movies & TV

View Comments (7)