Has Disney Lost It’s Movie Magic?
'John Carter' and 'The Lone Ranger' get dubious Disney distinctions (Photo: Walt Disney Company)
Following its disappointing opening weekend, "The Lone Ranger" continues to drastically underperform at the box office. It's a bomb that could cost Disney roughly $190 million once the dust settles.
But the masked man isn't alone in Disney's dunces' corner. Last year the epic-sized "John Carter," went $200 million in the red. Add to that 2011's "Mars Needs Moms" and 2010's "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" — were both major misses for Disney (see list below). The list of attempts to create gigantic franchise hit machines that died in the cradles with their first film now stretches out a mile long — "Haunted Mansion" "Country Bears" and "Prince of Persia" to name a few.
So has Disney lost that special spirit that made its name almost synonymous with feel good, family entertainment for so long? Has Tinkerbell's fairy dust blown away from the movie studio?
Yes and no. Disney has done well with the "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "National Treasure" series (the latter of which oddly had only two installments), but the majority of their critical and commercial successes over the past several years have mostly come from films released through Pixar and Marvel Studios, two companies the Mouse House acquired; purchases that Paul Dergarabedian of Hollywood.com calls "two of the best corporate decisions ever made." While they may not bear the Disney label, the profits for this year's hit "Monsters University" and last year's smash "The Avengers" go into the same pockets.
'Avengers' is arguably an outsourced success for Disney (Photo: Marvel/Disney)
Ultimately having creative output over several different banners is pretty common across all movie studios, not just Disney. "If you look at any of the studios today, they're releasing 12 or 15 pictures a year through various production companies, though the studios themselves are probably only looking at four or five," says box-office analyst Leonard Klady at MovieCityNews.com. "Studios are more banks than anything else," he adds.
Even if Disney's own house brand itself might not always be as successful or "creative" as, say, Pixar or Marvel, it ultimately might not matter because ... well, Disney is Disney, whether it shares a logo with another company during the opening credits or not. "The Disney brand isn't being compromised or going into the background — it's essentially evolved and reached a new level," says Phil Contrino, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. "Maybe in-house 'Disney movies' aren't doing as well as 'Iron Man,' but it doesn't really matter. It's all Disney and it's all good."