The Mandalorian season 3 is still on the Nielsen streaming charts, barely so, my guess is that this is the last time The Mandalorian will be on the charts until the next season is released. It is currently in 9th place on the original series charts with 319 million viewing minutes. How does that compare to season 2? Not very favorably, not at all. Season 2 already had more viewing minutes (and a higher average), but after the finale was released this gap only widened. And now the gap has become quite massive. Also, Peter Pan & Wendy is already massively shedding viewers and chances are it will drop out of the charts next week, and it only entered the charts last week, and at the box office Disney has no reason to rejoice either. Click through for more!
I will talk about The Mandalorian first, you may stop reading after that, unless you are also interested in how other Disney projects are performing, i.e. Peter Pan & Wendy and The Little Mermaid, I will also discuss the Indiana Jones 5 budget and how exceptionally bad 2023 may turn out to be for Disney’s entertainment division, there is a good chance only one movie, Guardians of the Galaxy 3, may return at least some profit, with all other movies costing the studio money and either flopping outright or underperforming.
But let’s get straight to the point, two weeks after the finale was first added to the Nielsen streaming charts The Mandalorian season 2 has pulled ahead of season 3 by a huge margin.
The Mandalorian season 3 total viewing minutes two weeks after the finale: 1,829 million minutes
The Mandalorian season 2 total viewing minutes two weeks after the finale: 3,067 million minutes
Things were a lot closer for the week the season finale was released, but two weeks later it’s evident that season 2 had much better legs and many more people either rewatched the Luke finale or watched other episodes. Now season 2 had the advantage of being released over Christmas, i.e. maybe people had somewhat more time to watch the show. But still, this is a huge gap. Season 2 has 40% (!) more viewing minutes now. And season 2 remained on the charts for another two weeks before it eventually dropped out of the top 10.
This should give Disney and Lucasfilm some concern, it seems people quickly lost interest in The Mandalorian season 3 and either did not rewatch episodes or people simply decided not to binge watch the season at all. And quite frankly, there is little reason to rewatch any season 3 episodes this time. The Mandalorian is still the most popular series on Disney+, but the loss of viewers, especially if we look at how the season performs after the finale was released, is alarming.
And how are other Disney projects performing?
Disney’s Peter Pan & Wendy is now in 6th place on the movie charts, barely ahead of Moana and Encanto with just 245 million viewing minutes. Moana usually has a little more than 200 million minutes, this movie has become the one constant for Disney on the movie charts. With numbers like these and given how audiences and critics reacted to the reimagined tale of the boy who does not want to grow old the movie can only be considered a “flop”. At least it had a somewhat sensible budget.
Talking about sensible budgets, or more like, budgets that are not sensible at all… several media outlets would want to make you believe The Little Mermaid can be a success or maybe even is a success. But after The Memorial Day weekend and the, very much expected, disastrous overseas numbers, and given that we know how enormously overblown the budget and marketing for the movie are, the movie is destined to be a major financial disaster for Disney.
Disney spent 250 million (to which they admit) on making the movie and another 140 million (!) on marketing it (to which they admit), which results in combined costs of 390 million USD for a remake of a fairytale no one asked for. Whoever thought it’s a good idea to pump so much money into that movie? Any movie really? Unless you are James Cameron maybe.
This means the movie must make about 800 million USD worldwide to break even. More or less, Disney will get ca 60% from theaters in the US, 40% from most other territories, China only 25% but the movie makes no money in China anyway so that won’t matter. In China the movie opened to a laughably bad 2.8 million USD or so and may not even make a total of 5 million USD, Aladdin made 53 million USD in China back in 2019, Fast X has made 110 million USD in China thus far though… Yes, blame China for more and more Fast & Furious franchise movies, no matter how hard the movies tank in the US.
The Little Mermaid sits at 217 million USD worldwide at the moment. And this weekend the new animated Spider-Man movie will open, which will probably rise to the top of the charts. Analysts now expect a 60+% drop for the second weekend, which is much higher than usual for a Disney live action remake (Aladdin’s second weekend drop was 53%). And outside North America the movie is already dead in the water anyway and not much more money will be made there.
In short: The Little Mermaid may make less than 500 million USD worldwide. Not even half of what Aladdin made. Even if you add potential home media sales and even if you add the money Disney pays to itself for streaming it on Disney+ (basically an accounting trick to make a movie look more profitable than it really is) and even if you add tv rights (to networks outside the US) the movie will still be a flop, i.e. lose money if box office is just about $500 million USD or even less. Not even half of what Aladdin made.
The issue here is that Disney’s production budgets have completely gone off the rails, a movie like The Little Mermaid should have had a 150 million USD budget, including marketing, at best. Certainly not 390 million.
And the next movies in the pipeline may make things even worse for Disney. Indiana Jones 5’s insane budget means this movie too needs to make something like 900 million USD worldwide to break even, this movie, which was produced by Kathleen Kennedy of course, has an astounding budget of 350 million, plus marketing, which will be around 100 million USD. And the upcoming Pixar animated movie Elemental is currently tracking for a dismal 40 million USD domestic opening weekend, which would mean it would be yet another expensive animation flop for Disney and lose money. All of this in light of Super Mario making almost 1.3 billion USD worldwide, so it’s not audience fatigue. The audience is waiting for good movies (or whatever it is the mainstream considers to be “good”), movies like Top Gun Maverick, Avatar The Way of Water or Super Mario. You only need to make them.
2023 may turn out to be a diastrous year for Disney entertainment and it’s not impossible that Guardians of the Galaxy 3 will be the only movie to return at least some profit. But with ticket prices that are 25-30% higher in 2023 it merely performs on the same level as the first one, meaning actual attendance is much lower than for the other two movies. All other Disney movies released in 2023 may turn out to be flops. How long can Disney keep doing this? And with Disney+ also losing much of its luster streaming may not be the salvation Disney once hoped it would be. Claims of making the service profitable by 2024 seem very ambitious.
Disney’s movie business is only a shadow of its former self. Pre covid, in 2019, Disney movies were in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th place at the yearly domestic box office. And 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 8th and 9th at the global box office. With a combined worldwide box office of 10.2 billion USD. As of now Disney movies are in 2nd, 3rd and 6th place at the domestic and 2nd, 4th and 7th at the worldwide box office. With a combined box office of 1.44 billion USD. And there is little hope the upcoming movies Indiana Jones 5, Elemental, Haunted Mansion (yet another remake. Eddie Murphy starred in the 2003 version of the movie) and The Marvels will significantly change that.
It’s certainly “interesting times” for Disney. And Lucasfilm. One has to wonder what will happen with the studio leadership should Indiana Jones – The Dial of Destiny become a huge flop. And here even a respectable box office of 700 million USD would still be considered a “flop”, because of the inflated budget. It’s time Disney learns to make $100 million movies again, this is not sustainable. It’s crazy when movies have to make $800 million or even $900 million just to break even.
If you are a Disney shareholder you have some reason to be concerned. Disney’s stock price is now basically half of what it used to be just two years ago.
And Jon Favreau has to do some soul searching and think long and hard about why season 3 is not only the least popular season of The Mandalorian, but also why it lost about 40% of its viewership since season 2. Now we have to see how Ahsoka will perform on Disney+. On the same level as Obi-Wan Kenobi at least? Better maybe? Or worse? But before that happens Indiana Jones 5 – The Dial of Destiny is released worldwide at the end of June. And maybe this movie, finally, may result in some leadership changes at Lucasfilm, should it seriously underperform. Which, given its ludicrous budget, is almost guaranteed.
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