Disney’s latest animated offering, “Wish,” has overcome a challenging start to secure a significant milestone at the global box office. Intended to mark Disney’s centennial, the film takes viewers back to the studio’s animated origins, presenting a simple yet enchanting origin story for the iconic Disney wishing star. Boasting the vocal talents of Ariana DeBose and Chris Pine, the movie initially faced a tough Thanksgiving weekend opening, generating a meager $19.7 million—a situation reminiscent of last year’s Disney box office stumble, “Strange World,” which managed just $11.9 million during its opening weekend.
In the face of competition from Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon,” “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” and the animated spectacle “Trolls Band Together,” projections indicated that “Wish” would fare even worse in its second weekend, casting a shadow over its future prospects. However, recent reports from The Numbers reveal a surprising turnaround for “Wish,” as the film has now surpassed the $100 million mark worldwide, amassing a cumulative global box office of $105.5 million. Notably, $56.1 million of this total stems from the international box office. Given its $200 million production budget, this places “Wish” at the halfway point to recouping its costs after its initially sluggish performance.
The struggles of “Strange World” are not unique among recent Disney releases. “Lightyear,” which hit theaters in June 2022, experienced a modest opening and suffered a second-weekend drop only surpassed by Pixar’s “Onward,” released in March 2020 during the early stages of the pandemic. Another casualty of the pandemic’s impact on the box office was “Soul,” and in June 2023, “Elemental” faced a historically low domestic opening for a Pixar film before eventually rallying to a global box office total of $486.7 million through an extended theatrical run.
Despite the lukewarm theatrical reception of recent Disney films, a silver lining emerges when considering the streaming success achieved since the launch of Disney+ in late 2019. While box office figures alone might suggest a challenging period for Disney, streaming numbers tell a different narrative, indicating that the entertainment giant now measures a film’s success using various metrics, potentially shifting priorities. Numerous recent theatrical disappointments have found redemption as sleeper hits on Disney+, suggesting that even if “Wish” falls short of breaking even during its theatrical run, it could still achieve significant milestones in the streaming realm.
Nevertheless, the story of “Wish” is far from concluded. The recent surge in its global box office may signal the potential for even higher numbers as the animated musical continues its theatrical journey, particularly with a streaming release scheduled for July 8th. This later release date provides ample time for “Wish” to establish itself as an exclusive cinematic experience before making its way to Disney+. Disney may choose to prolong the film’s theatrical run, following the strategy employed with “Elemental,” giving “Wish” a chance to surpass its production budget over time. Regardless of whether “Wish” attains theatrical glory for Disney, recent trends suggest a promising future for the animated tale once it graces Disney+ screens next year.