Disney+ Scores Much-Needed New Streaming Hit After Losing Billions

in Disney, Movies

Disney+ logo on a blue gradient background.

Credit: Disney+

The Disney+ streaming service is struggling to hang on to subscribers and isn’t even close to making a profit, but at least it’s managed to get another hit release under its belt.

A serene twilight sky backs the iconic fairy tale castle as the luminous walt disney pictures logo takes center stage.
Credit: Disney

Disney+ was introduced to consumers in 2019 as a Netflix-killer. The streaming app was highly promoted as having essentially a near-century of Disney animation and live-action films and TV shows (with one or two exceptions, naturally) and a huge catalog of content that included Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm’s Star Wars and Indiana Jones, The Simpsons, National Geographic, and Pixar Animation Studios.

What’s more, Disney+ was launched with the promise of brand-new, original Marvel series like WandaVision and Loki and Star Wars projects like The Mandalorian. It had a rock-bottom price for the market ($6.99 per month) and looked primed to quickly overtake Netflix as the dominant streamer in the world.

Disney CEO Bob Iger against collage of various films
Credit: Disney, edited by ITM

That hasn’t panned out, to put it mildly.

Related: Customers Should Brace Themselves as Disney+ Ramps up Streaming Ads

Instead, the Walt Disney Company has nearly doubled prices, pushed ad-supported subscriptions and tiered bundles, deleted huge swathes of original and legacy content, and suffered from crashing viewership numbers and critical reviews. Even CEO Bob Iger is fed up with how Disney+ has failed to provide a return on investment in five years, which is understandable considering that it has racked up a colossal $11.5 billion in losses.

As such, the streamer needs literally any win that it can get. Fortunately for the service, it just got one in the streaming debut of Wish (2023), the centennial film from Walt Disney Animation Studios that flopped hard at the box office. While the movie was highly publicized as celebrating the entirety of the studio’s history and was a huge part of the Disney100 celebration, it tanked in theaters and with critics.

Asha (Ariana DeBose) holding a wishing star in Disney's 'Wish' (2023)
Credit: Disney

But now that it has been released on Disney+, it seems audiences are warming up to Wish (per Variety). According to a press release, Wish racked up 13.2 million global views (total stream time divided by runtime) since it began streaming on April 3. That makes the formerly flopped film the third biggest premiere on Disney+ since the service launched, only lagging behind Frozen 2 (2019) and Encanto (2021).

Related: Disney Removes ‘Wish’ From Theme Park Two Months After Release

It is particularly notable that Wish has managed to compete with Frozen 2 and Encanto, given that both had specific advantages. Frozen 2 was part of one of Disney’s most successful franchises of all time and was released three months earlier than expected on Disney+ in 2020, turning it into a huge event for the new service. Meanwhile, Encanto was released deep in the COVID-19 pandemic when streaming services became the primary entertainment source for hundreds of millions of people stuck in quarantine and unable or unwilling to go to movie theaters.

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

So, Wish managing to stack up against those films is pretty impressive, especially considering that neither Raya and the Last Dragon (2021), Strange World (2022), or the live-action The Little Mermaid (2023) were able to do those kind of numbers. Will it be enough to save Disney+? Only time (and Bob Iger) can say for certain.

Wish stars Ariana DeBose as Asha and Chris Pine as King Magnifico, as well as Alan Tudyk, Angelique Cabral, Victor Garber, Natasha Rothwell, Jennifer Kumiyama, Harvey Guillén, Evan Peters, and Ramy Youssef. It was directed by Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn and written by Jennifer Lee and Allison Moore.

Did you watch Wish when it began streaming? Let us know in the comments below!

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