Disney has struggled at the box office over the last year. With theatrical flops like Lightyear and Strange World, they’ve had a rough go of it, unlike their competition over at NBCUniversal. Universal currently seems like it can do no wrong with hits like Minions: The Rise of Gru, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, and The Bad Guys. Most recently, the studio released The Super Mario Bros Movie, which I’d currently breaking box office records worldwide.
The Super Mario Bros Movie follows the iconic Nintendo game characters and brings them to life in an all-new way! After his brother Luigi is kidnapped, Mario joins forces with Princess Peach to defeat the evil Bowser and stop him from taking over the world. This fun movie has been a hit with audiences everywhere and has passed the $1.1 billion mark at the box office, making it the 4th highest-earning animated film of all time, and it’s on track to climb even higher.
During the Walt Disney Company Second Quarter earnings call, Bob Iger surprised everyone by addressing the film’s success. In his opening remarks, he began by saying, “Allow me to digress for a moment to congratulate Universal for the tremendous success of Super Mario Bros. It certainly proves people love to be entertained in theaters around the world, and it gives us reason to be optimistic about the movie business.”
Iger has been critical of the theater since the Covid-19 pandemic shut down cinemas around the world in 2020. He is on record saying, “I don’t think movies ever return, in terms of moviegoing, to the level that they were at pre-pandemic.” In that interview, he pointed to streaming as the future of the movie industry and surmised that consumers got comfortable streaming at home and likely wouldn’t return to the theater.
His recent statement of congratulations to Universal seems to indicate that he has backtracked on this line of thinking. By saying, “It certainly proves people love to be entertained in theaters,” he admitted he was wrong without admitting he was wrong. Disney’s upcoming Wish is going to be the real test for Disney. If the hybrid computer and hand-drawn animation film can find success, perhaps Iger will believe in the movie theater again.