As you probably know by now, Alice Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to the highly successful yet much-maligned Alice in Wonderland remake, bombed big time at the box office.
And to be honest? I’m very happy about it. I think (I hope) it’s going to be the wake up call that Disney needs.
I’m likely not alone saying this, but it’s become pretty apparent that Disney is relying more on billion dollar franchises than it is on more original (but still successful) works. There have been plenty of essays on how the splurge of Disney live-action remakes are hurting the company, but I don’t think it’s the only problem. Remember when hearing the term ‘Marvel Movie’ caused excitement instead of dread?
When Disney bought Marvel and acquired the film rights to Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and the ilk (they don’t have the film rights to the X-Men or Fantastic Four yet), they created the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At first, it was exciting! We got to see The Avengers, where all our fave heroes come together to kick ass! But now, there’s a lot of comments on how the MCU is going to collapse onto itself. I wrote about why this is before, but I think there’s another reason: they keep churning out two or more MCU movies every year, with no sign of relief. Because of this, most of the films end up being less about telling good compelling stories that make sense and more about nonstop action and explosion. Is there any reason why the Avengers, who were formerly friends, have to fight each other over one person? No, other than to boost ticket sales. In other words, the MCU and other franchises have an issue of quantity over QUALITY.
The thing is, while people may flock to theaters now, Alice Through the Looking Glass‘s bombing proves that people WILL wise up. What happens when Disney/Marvel makes an MCU that bombs (which I’m betting dollars to donuts will be Doctor Strange with the whitewashing controversy)?
I’m a little concerned that a similar fate is going to befall Star Wars. Do we really need a new Star Wars film EVERY year? Especially films that have no Luke Skywalker, no Princess Leia, and no Han Solo? I’m sure diehard fans will rush to see all these films, I’m not sure if casual fans are going to want to see a SW films that isn’t an official episode, especially when the trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story makes it look more like a horror/thriller than a science fiction action film.
On top of all that, there’s a huge problem with Disney and merchandise. You can find waves upon waves upon waves of toys and other products for Marvel, Star Wars, and Frozen (which Disney is trying to make into a franchise despite only being one film with no background). Good luck trying to find any stuff for films or series that aren’t any of those three (unless they’re lucky enough to be associated with a Princess or Fairy, and even then, don’t bet on it)! This basically leaves fans FORCED to buy only a select amount of merch in order to make these films successful. It’s not that it’s bad that these franchises have merch, it’s that consumers are given no other choice. Imagine how much more successful films and series like Big Hero 6 or Gravity Falls or Wander Over Yonder or all the other Pixar and live action films could be if they were given a bigger chance in the marketplace (since they all have their devoted fanbases and plenty of new fans with the rise of Netflix), but they’re not given it.
Basically, Disney should give a lot of attention to ALL their successful products (not just the ones that manage to gross billions). Only paying attention to a select few is not only unfair, but also, as Alice Through the Looking Glass proves, dangerous. If Disney wants to remain successful, it’s going to have to take advantage of all their bases instead of depending on tentpoles, especially ones that aren’t needed or wanted.
Well it looks like Doctor Strange didn’t bomb, and the MCU is going to be okay for a long time. But I still think Disney needs to do more than JUST saturate audiences with Marvel, Star Wars, and Disney Princesses.