Disney's live-action remake of The Little Mermaid has made waves at the global box office, surpassing $500 million at the global box office. But, because this is Disney we're talking about, there are rumblings that the House of Mouse isn't happy with the performance.
Amidst the success, Disney faces broader economic challenges, with losses on recent studio releases and a bevvy of missed opportunities in content licensing. The company is undergoing a strategic reorganization and cost-saving measures while navigating legal battles and adapting to the evolving entertainment landscape.
To be clear, The Little Mermaid remake has been a steady former over the course of the past four weeks. Despite falling way short in Asian markets like Japan, South Korea, and China, the film ranks as the fifth-biggest Hollywood release of the year worldwide. However, it remains to be seen if the movie can recoup its reported $250 million production budget with marketing likely costing as much, a benchmark typically required to break even for films of this scale.
Disney hasn't had a live-action remake make over a billion since Aladdin in 2019 with Mulan infamously grossing only $70 million back in June 2020.
While Disney's most recent string of live-action outings faces different marketing dynamics, including a global pandemic, the numbers don't lie; Disney has bled nearly a billion as a result of its most recent endeavors.
One factor impacting the company's financial performance is the decision to exclusively stream content on Disney+ rather than pursuing licensing deals with third-party platforms. This approach has limited revenue potential and missed out on billions of dollars that could have been generated through licensing contracts. In response, Disney is undergoing a strategic reorganization, including job cuts and cost-saving measures, led by CEO Bob Iger to navigate the changing entertainment landscape.
Disney's challenges extend beyond the box office and streaming with a lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over a controversial law hanging over its head. The lawsuit reflects ongoing tensions between Disney and the governor, as the company seeks to protect its theme park district in Disney World. Additionally, Disney's CEO, Bob Iger, is working to revive the streaming business while ensuring the stability of the company's theme parks amid the COVID-19 pandemic and shifting consumer preferences.
Despite the economic challenges, Disney continues to leverage its strengths across various sectors, striving to reestablish a strong footing in the evolving entertainment industry.
As the Marvel Cinematic Universe recovers from a string of so-so performances with Star Wars' impending return forced push back and Avatar effectively going on hiatus, Disney is betting big on its incumbent lineup to help it weather the storm and remain a major player in the entertainment landscape.
At the moment, Disney doesn't seem like it plans to slow down the live-action hype train anytime soon. After Ariel got her turn, Snow White and Mufasa are getting remade in live-action form on March 22, 2024, and July 5, 2024, respectively. Fans can also look forward to live-action adaptations of Moana, Lilo & Stitch, Hercules, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and a possible sequel to Aladdin.
So, while Disney might not have had the best time at the global box office, its embarrassment of literal riches affords it a financial cushion that allows the multi-billion company to soldier on.
Of course, this begs the question, what would it take for Disney to stop messing with its classic animated films?
At this point, the only way we'll find out is if Disney's live-action outings bomb one after the other, which isn't happening anytime soon.