- “Wish” finished third at the box office in its opening week, earning only $31.7 million after its premiere on November 22, 2023.
- The film fell significantly short of box office projections, making only $19.5 million during its opening weekend instead of the expected $35 million.
- Negative reviews and Disney’s struggling box office performance post-COVID-19 contributed to “Wish’s” lackluster numbers.
Disney’s Wish did not live up to its opening projections over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and the film studio’s latest project is shaping up to be a box office bomb if its numbers do not improve. The 2023 animated musical fantasy movie comes from the minds behind Frozen — Chris Buck co-directed the film with Fawn Veerasunthorn, and Jennifer Lee co-wrote the screenplay with Allison Moore. Many believed the movie would perform well during its opening weekend in theaters, especially since it premiered during a holiday week. Instead, Wish was a massive disappointment.
Wish tells the story of a 17-year-old girl named Asha, voiced by Ariana DeBose, and her journey to save the Kingdom of Rosas from the evil King Magnifico by wishing on a star. The film was created to celebrate Disney’s 100th anniversary by showcasing the magic of wishes and dreams that the company was founded on. Despite it being an original concept (when many movies coming out of Disney nowadays are sequels), Wish flopped at the box office during its first week in theaters, and multiple factors can explain why it failed.
Wish Finished Third At The Box Office In Its Opening Weekend
Wish only earned $31.7 million at the box office over its opening week following its premiere on November 22 and $19.5 million over the traditional weekend, starting Friday, November 24. The animated musical fantasy movie finished in third place at the box office during the weekend after Thanksgiving, trailing behind The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes ($28.8 million) and Napoleon ($21 million). Both films outperformed the Walt Disney Animation Studios feature despite its optimistic early predictions for the theatrical release.
Wish’s Opening Weekend Was Significantly Below Box Office Projections
According to Variety, Wish was projected to make at least $35 million over the weekend and between $45 million and $50 million from its first five days in theaters. So, the 2023 movie evidently fell significantly short of what many expected from it at the box office following its premiere. Instead of earning $35 million, Wish made only $19.5 million at the box office during its opening weekend. Unfortunately, its failure is only the latest disappointment from Walt Disney Pictures in recent years.
Wish’s Box Office Is Even Worse Than Elemental’s
Wish‘s opening weekend box office was not the first time a movie from Walt Disney Pictures flopped shortly following its premiere in 2023. The opening of the Pixar animated romantic comedy-drama film Elemental was a significant letdown for the film studio in the early summer months. Elemental brought in $29.6 million during the three-day weekend of June 16, which fell short of its $35 million to $40 million projections. It was the lowest weekend debut for Pixar after Toy Story in 1995 (not adjusted for inflation). Meanwhile, Wish made $19.5 million over its opening weekend, making its early box office numbers even worse than Elemental‘s.
Wish’s Reviews Did Not Help Its Box Office Chances
Sadly, Wish had many things going against it heading into its premiere week and opening weekend. For starters, Disney has been awful at marketing its new releases as of late, so it’s very likely that many didn’t know a movie was coming out during the Thanksgiving holiday. However, reviews of the 2023 animated film certainly didn’t help its chances at the box office.
As of the writing of this article, Wish‘s Rotten Tomatoes score is 50 percent from 154 reviews. Numerous critics claimed the movie repeated Disney’s classic storytelling formula, resulting in a predictable and boring tale. Additionally, some said it was just a celebration of Disney’s past 100 years when it should have delivered a unique story and cemented its place in the studio’s lineup of iconic films. As a result, some potential viewers might have been dissuaded from seeing Wish in theaters.
Disney’s Animated Movies Lost Their High Box Office Potential After COVID-19
Walt Disney Pictures has been struggling to release a hit following the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down theaters worldwide in 2020. Because of the pandemic, the film studio, like many others, had to adjust its strategy regarding releasing new titles, and ever since theaters opened back up, Disney’s box office numbers have failed to return to their pre-pandemic glory. The company has yet to figure out how to get as many people to see its movies in theaters as it did before 2020, and many post-pandemic projects have been disappointments. As a result, Wish is the latest in a string of box office failures from Disney.
Disney’s Streaming Strategy Has Hurt Its Animated Movies The Most
To counter the worldwide movie theater shutdown in 2020, Disney released new films on its streaming service, Disney+. Since many could not go to the theaters to watch movies like Mulan, Soul, Luca, and more, the production company sent them straight to streaming during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this release strategy has backfired following the re-opening of theaters. Now, a vast majority wait for Disney’s animated features to be added to Disney+ instead of spending more money to see them in theaters, especially since the studio doesn’t wait too long following a film’s premiere to add it to the streaming platform. It’s only a matter of time before Wish is on Disney+, after all.
What Wish Flopping At The Box Office Means For Disney’s Animated Movie Future
Since Wish is slowly turning into a box office bomb, Walt Disney Animation Studios might be even more motivated to focus on franchises and sequels rather than releasing original concepts. As mentioned above, the majority of the company’s post-pandemic animated titles have flopped during their theatrical runs. So, Disney is seemingly trying a new strategy to make a comeback. Instead of coming up with original ideas, the studio is relying on previous hits to bring in money.
Disney has already greenlit Frozen 4 before Frozen 3 even has a premiere date. Inside Out 2 is coming out on June 14, 2024. Toy Story 5 and Zootopia 2 are in development. And following Wish, fans might be seeing many more sequels in the near future.
Can Wish Still Become A Box Office Success?
Of course, Wish has only been in theaters for less than a week. There is still time for the animated musical fantasy film to make a comeback at the box office and avoid being declared a box office bomb. Its budget was between $175 million and $200 million, so it must make at least $370 million more during its theatrical run to be considered a financial success. However, the movie is not doing well internationally, so the likelihood of Wish rebounding from its disappointing opening weekend is low.
Disney’s Wish is now playing in theaters.