‘Wish’ Opens to $31.7 Million Over Holiday Window, Becoming Latest Disney Film To Underperform at Box Office

Kyle Silagyi

‘Wish’ Opens to $31.7 Million Over Holiday Window, Becoming Latest Disney Film To Underperform at Box Office

Even the star power of… Star wasn’t enough to catapult “Wish” to a strong commercial debut. The latest release from Walt Disney Animation Studios has underperformed in its domestic opening, per Variety, earning just $31.7 million throughout its five-day opening holiday window. The film came in well shy of its $45–$50 million five-day projection, placing it on the concerningly long list of Disney-produced films that have underwhelmed at the 2023 box office.

‘Wish’ Underperforms in Box Office Debut

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“Wish” finished third at the domestic box office over the extended Thanksgiving weekend, behind “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” and “Napoleon,” an R-rated historical epic that overperformed to a $32.5 million domestic haul. Mid-week ticket sales for “Wish” were roughly in line with projections, but a poor traditional weekend take of just $19.5 million prompted the film to tumble down the rankings.

“Wish” tacked on an additional $17.3 million in international markets, per Variety, resulting in a total global opening of $49 million.

Walt Disney Animation Studios hoped to recapture some of its former box office magic with “Wish.” The studio has long had a habit of domestically releasing new films around Thanksgiving, primarily because it’s historically worked. Releasing family-centric films at a time in which families are traditionally gathered is, in theory, a profitable plan, and it’s resulted in exceptionally strong openings for the studio in the past. Variety notes that “Ralph Breaks the Internet” earned $84.6 million in its holiday window in 2018, with “Frozen II” taking $123.7 million in its five-day opening the next year.

Disney hoped to replicate this success with “Wish,” marketing the film in various ways in the lead-up to its release. Its underperformance instead makes it the latest film from the company to commercially disappoint.

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Walt Disney Studios has had a poor year at the box office. “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” and “Haunted Mansion,” all of which were distributed (and, ultimately, financed) by the studio, struggled at the 2023 box office, failing to recoup their colossal budgets and losing money for the company. “The Marvels” is currently in the midst of a historically poor box office performance in which it likely will not even match the opening weekend total of its 2019 predecessor “Captain Marvel.”

All of the films mentioned have substantial production budgets, with “Haunted Mansion” carrying the lowest price tag at $150 million. The high cost of production puts Disney behind the curb in terms of potential profitability before the movies are even released; the poor box office performances certainly don’t help.

“Wish” carries a reported budget of $200 million, pre-marketing. Though an underwhelming opening certainly isn’t desirable, it’s not a fatal blow; “Elemental,” the latest Pixar film, dramatically underperformed in its debut weekend, becoming the studio’s second-worst theatrical opening of all time. This prompted a Cinderella run for the feature in which it ultimately became profitable before becoming the Disney+ streaming service’s most-watched movie premiere of the year.

Variety also notes that “Wish” has only opened in 27 regions thus far, just 40% of the markets it will ultimately play in.

“Wish” will attempt to rebound next weekend. There are no new family-centric films entering a wide release, meaning that the movie will again compete for that audience with “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” and DreamWork’s “Trolls Band Together.”

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“Wish” follows Asha (Ariana DeBose), an ambitious young woman who makes a wish upon a star that changes the fate of her entire kingdom. The film also stars Chris Pine as King Magnifico, Alan Tudyk as Valentino the talking goat, and Star, the movie’s breakout character, as himself.

Check out our review of “Wish” here.

Did you watch “Wish” in theaters over the holiday window? If so, what did you think? Let us know in the comments.

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