Monday Morning Quarterback Part III

By BOP Staff

July 10, 2013

Winning looks painful.

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Kim Hollis: Let's examine the state of Walt Disney Pictures right now. Iron Man 3, their latest Marvel property, has grossed over $400 million domestically and $1.2 billion worldwide. They have several other Marvel properties in the offing as well as the already mythic acquisition of Star Wars sequels. On the flip side, John Carter, Mars Needs Moms and now The Lone Ranger have each been unmitigated financial disasters. What is your opinion on the dichotomy between the popularity of their acquired tentpoles and their high-profile struggles with in-house attempts at franchises?

Jay Barney: You gotta give them credit for trying. I will probably be in the minority here, but I don't mind them attempting to offer big movies. Sometimes they miss. Other studios make mistakes as well. Just look at May 2012 and see how bad Universal did. They spent $150 million on Dark Shadows and that flopped. They forked over $200 million on Battleship and that sunk badly. Now look at the summer of 2013. Big difference.

Disney will have successes and failures. Some of the failures will be big, sure. Even with the soft opening of the Lone Ranger, they still have had a very impressive year. Iron Man 3 made over $1 billion worldwide. Oz the Great and Powerful has brought in almost $500 million globally. Their latest hit, Monsters University, has already brought in $400 million combined, and it is nowhere near the end of its run.

The international box office is changing the game a lot, and there is some indication that Lone Ranger may not be the epic disaster we are speculating it will be. Don't get me wrong. The numbers are not good thus far. However, I would like to remind everybody of After Earth, this summer's other considerable miss. When it opened in the U.S., all of the talk was about how much of a mega bomb it was going to be. Well to a certain extent, that is true. However, we all underestimated the international star power of Will Smith. After Earth did substantially under perform in the U.S, but it has quietly accumulated nearly $200 million globally. Will that film make money? Probably not. Will it be the utter disaster we all predicted? Probably not. Johny Depp is one of the biggest stars in the world. Let's just see what happens.


Disney spent a lot of money on this project and the competition will be pretty huge in the coming weeks, but let's see how everything plays out. Will the box office performance of Lone Ranger earn it a sequel? Absolutely not.

Disney still has Planes in a few weeks. Thor II will be a solid Thanksgiving release. And I haven't even discussed the long term properties like Star Wars that they can develop. Mouse House missed with Lone Ranger. They will be fine, though.

Edwin Davies: I don't think it's a dichotomy so much as it is a case of one thing leading to the other. Prior to their acquisition of Marvel, which has obviously yielded huge dividends for Disney over the last few years, Disney was pretty much solely reliant on Pixar for their biggest hits. They would occasionally get lucky when something like Pirates of the Caribbean came along, which was both huge in its own right and allowed for the creation of a franchise, but most of the time they had mid-level hits. It's no coincidence that as soon as it looked like Pixar would break off its partnership with Disney and go its own way, Roy Disney helped force out Michael Eisner, who was the main impediment to their relationship and paved the way for Disney to buy Pixar and ensure more hits down the road. Disney has been struggling for years, since their last great in-house animation surge dried up in the early '00s, to have huge hits on their own, and the realization that it's really, really hard to force people to want franchises has clearly driven their plan of basically buying sure things to make up for their own shortcomings. These basically cushion them, albeit lightly, against the failures of things like The Lone Ranger because they've always got a property that they can fall back on. But they also keep taking these risks because there's always a chance one of them might take off. More often than not, they don't, but when you've got a new Star Wars trilogy on your schedule, you're probably not too worried that you're not going to get to open Lone Ranger Land in Orlando.

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