Blockbuster movies brought audiences back to the movie theater this summer—unless you are Disney. Compared to box office hits Barbie and Oppenheimer, Disney’s feature films have surprisingly lacked audience attendance.
Kim Owczarski, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Film, Television and Digital Media, spoke with Shannon Powers at Newsweek to discuss what is happing with Disney’s recent box office woes. Owczarski explains that in a summer of blockbuster hits, Disney released too many films to give any particular film dedicated media attention.
“They have relied too much on franchises that are either skewing older or there are too many texts to keep track of in theaters and on streaming, like with the Marvel properties,” she explained, adding: “Word-of-mouth wasn’t great on several of these films, either, which certainly kept those who weren’t die-hard fans from going to theaters and instead they just wait for their streaming debuts. With such a short turnaround from theaters to Disney+, there’s no real need to spend so much money going to a movie theater for a less than stellar film.”
So, what could Disney be doing better? Well, they could create more “original content” or release more from their significant catalog, argues Owczarski. “Original stories typically cost less to make than franchise properties, so investing a bit more in them may lead to some bigger returns in the long run.” She gave examples of Elemental and The Little Mermaid live action remake of the original Disney film, which had slow starts but eventually turned out audiences.
Ultimately, Disney would do better doing what Disney does: creating films the whole family can enjoy together. Films like Elemental and The Little Mermaid have “played well in theaters since their debut because of the lack of family-oriented films in the market this summer. Disney performs its best when it can tap into that audience and they have made fewer films geared to it in recent years. They need to focus on films for the family audience again,” Owczarski added.
Read the full story at Why Disney Can’t Make Hits Like It Used To.