Analysis: Is Disney Dying?

Written by on 6th July 2023

Disney and Pixar have long dominated the animated market in cinema, with hits such as Toy Story, Aladdin and The Lion King a popular popcorn flick for audiences around the world. With the animated world constantly changing, film studios are switching up their ideas and branching out to new demographics and audience needs; or are they?

New Competition?

I recently had the opportunity to view Sony Pictures Animation and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse, which released on the June 2, 2023. Being the sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, the film had a lot of weight on its shoulders of living up to the original, which for 2018, had one of the most unique animation styles seen to date. The film not only utilised the original animation style of its predecessor, but it expanded on it, creating six different animation styles due to the films’ plot involving expanding on the multiverse seen in the 2018 film. The plot of the new film is Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) encountering the Spider Society, a group of Spider-Man variants from across the multiverse, lead by Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac). The two collide over dealing with a mysterious fiend named The Spot (Jason Schwartzman), who threatens the lives of people close to Miles.

The film’s animation (despite only having a budget of $100million) was breath-taking, with the animation variations, the editing, the soundtrack and the story resulting in its 96% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In my opinion, the film not only meets the success of the original, but builds on it through this development of animation, proving that creating a film that people will enjoy is not all about the money put into it. The film has been received with overwhelming praise, and with a chilling cliff-hanger ending, allows audiences to look forward to the sequel Spider-Man: Beyond the Spiderverse, which is slated to released on March 29, 2024. This new era of animation that has resulted in various new animation styles that are used by companies in films such as Entergalactic, The Bad Guys and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.

Disney’s Problems

With changes constantly happening at other film studios, Disney and Pixar, famously acclaimed for their creativity and detailed animation, has been caught in the crossfire of these film studios fighting for animation prowess. Since Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, Pixar has not changed its animation style and has instead released a selection of original films since 2019, those being Onward, Soul, Luca, Turning Red, Lightyear and Elemental.

With both Spider-Man films combining to gross $995million at the box office, Pixar and its last six original productions have combined to make $749.8million (which although includes the pandemic years it doesn’t take overall profit into account). With the budgets of the Spider-Man films combining to make $190million (excluding marketing costs) and Pixar’s average cost for the six films being around $160million (three of which cost more than $200million to make), shows that Pixar has not made a lot of money, despite spending millions on all of their films. This could suggest that Disney’s problems are (although creating original projects) down to the amount of money and the lack of creativity in the animation department, with the same style of animation being used for all films, but lower costing films such as the Spiderverse films doing significantly better at the box office proves spending lots of money on films isn’t necessarily going to mean people will see them.

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