Disney’s 100th Anniversary: A Dumpsterfire

Mickey and Minnie make an appearance at the 2017 Books on Bases event in Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
Mickey and Minnie make an appearance at the 2017 “Books on Bases” event in Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
Image by Heather Redman

October 16, 2023 marked the 100th anniversary of The Walt Disney Company. And Disney supposedly seemed to have kicked it into high gear. A brand new original Pixar film, an upcoming Disney animation studio movie with a stylized animation style that would act as an origin story to the famous wishing star, as well as the return of the CEO that made Disney the huge empire that it is today, and a new land coming to Disneyland in Shanghai. What could go wrong?
A couple of things. For one thing, the repeated straight-to-streaming releases of movies such as Soul, Turning Red, and Luca looked to have taught people to just wait for the newest Pixar/Disney movie to come out on Disney+ and not spend all that money to watch it in theaters. That and moviegoers have gotten smarter about what movie they want to go to their local movie theater and watch. This was evident in Lightyear’s (2022) box office disappointment. The movie was conceived by many as underwhelming.
Shubra Gupta from The Indian Express said, “The Chris Evans film has little soul, spark, and moving moments.”
Unfortunately (or fortunately), Disney’s troubles don’t end there. The fan-favorite ride, Splash Mountain was permanently closed at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, and Magic Kingdom in Orlando, FL on May 31, 2023, and January 23, 2023, respectively. Both versions of the ride were closed to make way for a retheme based on The Princess and the Frog (2009). The closure was received with a lot of backlash from diehard fans, calling the retheme that haven’t seen anything except concept art, “woke” and other words. However, the decision was also met with positive but quieter praise from other fans.
Marvel Studios hasn’t been so marvelous either. Especially due to the amount of Disney+ original shows such as She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, and Secret Invasion fans feeling fatigued from Marvel projects. Most of these shows are supposed to lead up to events in the MCU such as the multiverse. So coupled with the fact that these shows aren’t great and that there are so many of them, it’s easy to grow tired of trying to keep up with the newest stories in the Marvel cinematic timeline. However, Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3 was both a critical and commercial success, ranking in $844.86 million on a $250 million budget.
Other Disney projects in 2023 failed such as The Marvels and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. However there were two movies that really stood out. Pixar’s Elemental and Walt Disney Studio’s Wish. Elemental is special as it’s the first original Pixar movie to be released in theaters since Onward (2022) and Wish is special as its Disney’s way of responding to the step up in animation stylization pioneered by Sony’s Into the Spider-verse (2018). Wish also acts as an origin story for the famous “wishing star”.
Much to Disney’s disappointment, both movies underperformed commercially. While fine critically, sitting at 74% on RT (Rotten Tomatoes), Elemental barely made it past its budget of $300 million. Wish however underperformed both commercially AND critically. Earning a 48% on RT and $233.6 million at the box office against a $175-$200 million budget.
Top Critic, Kyle Smith, expresses his disappointment towards the movie, saying “On the basis of its half-thought-out script, Hollywood writers’ fears of being supplanted by artificial intelligence appear well-founded. This movie seems proud, even smug, about recycling scraps from other fairy tales.”

Overall, Disney’s 100th year of being in business was ultimately a pretty disappointing one. Critical and box office bombs, a cinematic universe in shambles, and backlash from die-hard theme park fans. Here’s to the next 100 years of wonder, hopefully, the end of the next century will be a better celebration than this one.

“Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3” Box office numbers
“Elemental” Rotten Tomatoes score
“Wish” Rotten Tomatoes score


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