Disney has tapped actress Angelina Jolie following a significant health scare in an effort to boost its failing performance at the box office.
A Dethroned Disney
For the first time since 2015, Disney has been dethroned as king of the box office. In 2023, Disney was beat out for the #1 spot at the box office by Universal Pictures, which garnered an impressive $4.907 billion in worldwide ticket sales, compared to Disney’s total of $4.827 billion.
The fall from the #1 spot was likely no surprise to The Walt Disney Company, which has been taking very obvious and public steps to curb losses incurred by Disney-owned studios since February 2023, when CEO Bob Iger announced the company’s push to lean back on some of Disney’s most lucrative and popular franchises to break the company’s streak of losses at the studio.
Disney’s Attempts to Salvage the Studios
Part of Iger’s announcement included news about new installments in three film franchises: Pixar’s Toy Story, Disney’s Frozen, and Disney’s Zootopia. The results will be Toy Story 5, Frozen 3, and Zootopia 2.
More recently, Disney announced the debut of three Pixar films at the box office: Soul (2020) will be released on January 12, Turning Red (2022) will hit theaters on February 9, and finally, Luca (2021) will hit theaters on March 22. Neither of the three films enjoyed a box office debut, as they were released either during or shortly following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, during which movie theaters were not being frequented.
Disney Taps a Superstar to Bring Back the Box Office Magic
Now Disney has tapped the talents of a superstar actress in its attempt to win back the box office. Maleficent 3 is reportedly in the works, as announced in December. The new film will bring back actress Angelina Jolie in the title role as the Disney villain from Disney’s 1959 Sleeping Beauty, who has an elaborate backstory that explains why she is the way she is.
Recently, Jolie had indicated a possible desire to take a step back from the acting scene, but despite that, her return to the Maleficent franchise has been confirmed.
The actress recently experienced a health scare with a diagnosis of Bell’s palsy, a temporary paralysis of the face that leads to the drooping of one side of the face because of damage or trauma to facial nerves.
While Disney has not yet confirmed filming dates, fans are hopeful that the resolution of the writer and actor strikes in 2023 will give way to filming beginning sometime in 2024.
As of the time of this post, only Jolie’s return has been confirmed, and the remaining cast roles, including those of Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley, Juno Temple, Imelda Staunton, Ed Skrein, Jaume Collet Serra, Harris Dickinson, and Linda Woolverton, as well as associated cast details, have yet to be finalized. Fans of the Maleficent films are hopeful about the return of actress Elle Fanning in the role of Aurora, but there are no guarantees, especially since Fanning has not been in any films since 2020.