Disney Banks on 100th Anniversary Film 'Wish' to Reclaim the Thanksgiving Box Office

By Jace Dela Cruz

Nov 22, 2023 01:23 AM EST

Disney is placing a significant bet on its 100th-anniversary film, "Wish," hoping to revitalize its animation division and reclaim the Thanksgiving box office, according to CNBC

Disney Faces Challenges in Animation Sector

Despite a triumphant theatrical year in 2019, where seven Disney films surpassed $1 billion in global ticket sales, the studio has faced challenges in replicating that success, especially for its animation sector. 

The COVID-19 pandemic, executive decisions to prioritize Disney+, and the direct-to-digital release strategy for theatrical movies have all contributed to the struggles. While Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe films have experienced varying degrees of success, its animation arm has faced difficulties.

The confusion surrounding the release schedule of animated features from both Walt Disney Animation and Pixar studios, coupled with mixed critical and audience reception, has led to a decline in theatrical performance.

CNBC reported that this decline is particularly evident during the Thanksgiving holiday, traditionally a stronghold for Disney at the box office. Over the past decade, excluding the pandemic years, the five-day Thanksgiving period has consistently generated over $250 million in ticket sales annually. 

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Disney Wishing on the Theatrical Success of 'Wish'

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, noted that the post-pandemic era has seen a decline in the box office's Thanksgiving revenue-generating power. The analyst added that Thanksgiving films now rely more heavily on December moviegoing to determine their overall box office success.

In this context, Disney's "Wish" emerges as a pivotal release for the studio. The early ticket sales indicate the potential for the film to secure up to $55 million during the Wednesday-to-Sunday period, including Thanksgiving. 

Data from Comscore indicated that this projection falls behind previous Disney Thanksgiving openers like "Ralph Breaks the Internet," "Coco," "The Good Dinosaur," and "Tangled." But the silver lining here is that it surpasses the performances of recent releases like "Strange World" and "Encanto."

Disney is undoubtedly hoping that "Wish" will mark a turning point, not only for its animation division but also for its box office dominance during the Thanksgiving holiday. 

The film's success is critical for Disney to re-establish its foothold in the post-pandemic cinematic landscape and bring back the magic that characterized its theatrical triumphs in the past.

As "Wish" sets its sights on the Thanksgiving box office, Disney executives are eager to see if the 100th-anniversary film can capture the hearts of audiences and reignite the studio's cinematic prowess.  

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