This week, Disney earned the best kind of headlines thanks to Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. So let’s talk about the happy news.
Return of the Mack
During the pandemic, The Walt Disney Company faced an unprecedented struggle. Several of their vital revenue streams suddenly dried up.
At the time, Disney movies had reached an all-time high. Avengers: Endgame and Avengers: Infinity War tore up the box office in consecutive years.
Each film grossed more than $2 billion and combined for $4.82 billion. Nobody thinks about this, but Endgame came out only 10 months before the pandemic.
In fact, the film was still in theaters less than six months before the world shut down in mid-March.
For a time, Endgame was the number one movie ever. And Disney had lined up a slew of other blockbusters for 2020, starting with Black Widow.
Before that, Mulan actually had its red-carpet premiere. That’s how close it was to release when COVID-19 shut down the world.
If not for COVID, Disney would have enjoyed both of the best box office years ever in 2020. Obviously, that didn’t happen, though.
For two years, film executives debated the best way to handle a homebound society. So, most titles debuted on Disney+.
Obviously, Disney didn’t earn as much revenue that way, but the decision pumped the subscriber numbers for the fledgling service.
Now the tide has turned. Theaters are back in business, and Disney is again poised to capitalize on its box office dominance.
This past weekend, Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness became the company’s most successful project during the pandemic.
In fact, this sequel will earn as much during its opening week as Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings managed in its entire North American release.
Worldwide, Dr. Strange 2 has already beaten Shang-Chi, with $500+ million to $479 million.
Only Getting Started
Here is the remarkable part of the story. dr Strange will likely become Disney’s first billion-dollar earner of the pandemic.
However, this film isn’t guaranteed to perform the best of any Marvel 2022 release. In fact, it might not even finish second.
Thor: Love and Thunder will debut in theaters this July. In November, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will follow suit.
I dont think the fourth Thor film will match Dr. Strange, but I expect Black Panther 2 to do so.
Overall, those three films should earn about $3 billion in box office. Also, Disney releases Lightyear, the Toy Story (kind of) prequel/reboot, in June.
That movie will be massive, probably doing as well in theaters as Encanto has done on Disney+.
Then, there’s the other big title for the year, the one I haven’t mentioned yet. Remember how I said Endgame was the number one movie ever for a while?
What happened was that Endgame outearned the previous record-holder, Avatar. Then, the latter film gained a re-release.
The box office revenue from that release allowed Avatar to surpass Endgame and reclaim the title of the biggest movie ever.
Now, the sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, will finally arrive in December. But, unfortunately, that film is legitimately a decade later than it should have been.
Still, Avatar will earn an absolute minimum of $1 billion worldwide. $2 billion is a distinct possibility.
Overall, recent Disney headlines have pointed out that a cinematic resurgence is underway. And it couldn’t happen without Disney.
The five films I mentioned should earn combined global box office of $5 billion or more. It’s a staggering number that will literally save theatrical exhibition.
Everyone put two and two together on this right around the time Avatar 2 trailer came out. You can understand why:
Return of the Descendants
Disney isn’t stopping with its 2022 titles, either. The company is already lining up the next generation of blockbusters, some of which will air exclusively on Disney+.
The leadership team has decided that the best approach involves some titles that will debut in theaters while others will add to the Disney+ library.
For instance, a Descendants sequel recently earned a greenlight. The project, tentatively titled The Pocketwatch, will film this fall.
Disney promises another round of singing and dancing. This time, the story will include a visit to Wonderland.
Red, the daughter of the Queen of Hearts, will form a mismatched alliance with Chloe, the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming.
As is the case in these, they’ll fight right up until the point that they realize they’re besties.
Disney hasn’t announced any returning cast yet. It’s an awkward conversation since the late Cameron Boyce played an integral role in the prior films.
Still, from Disney’s perspective, this one’s a no-brainer. If you or your child fell into the age range of 6-14 at any time from 2015 through 2019, this franchise is iconic.
The viewer numbers back in the day were borderline historic. So, it was only a matter of time before Disney returned to the franchise.
One last thing…
Finally, I’ve noticed some of you in the comments asking when Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will debut on Disney+.
Disney hasn’t answered this question yet and may not for another six weeks.
Based on Disney’s current theatrical contracts, the answer could be as soon as June 20th. The more likely answer is August 2ndthough.
That’s the playbook Disney used for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Eternals. But, then again, Disney may have waited too long on the latter film.
I suspect the answer also depends on whether Dr. Strange 2 holds well in the coming weeks. Disney might hotshot it to streaming if it flames out quickly as Eternals did.
So, I’m tentatively answering this question with a date of August 2ndbut sometime in July wouldn’t surprise me.
I’d argue that Multiverse of Madness justifies a trip to the theaters, though, and that’s not something I’ve said much lately.
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Feature Photo: Disney