We all saw the box office figures for Solo: A Star Wars Story. By Star Wars standards, the film was a proverbial bust. That’s not unexpected, considering how Disney bungled the film from the beginning. (Frankly, they’re still bungling it, having managed to miss a submission deadline for an Oscar for which the film would have been eligible.) Now that Disney has released its financials, we are getting a picture of how badly Disney’s earnings took a hit as a result.
While Disney continues to be an entertainment juggernaut, Disney’s earnings prove that the company is far from infallible. According to CNN, the film unit saw a 27% percent decline in the first quarter. Such a drastic drop is clearly due in part to the decision to release Solo against Avengers: Infinity War in May instead of waiting. December has become the Star Wars slot since The Force Awakens opened in 2015. Without a Star Wars film premiering in December, however, we may have just discovered a chink in Disney’s armor.
Disney’s Earnings Far Off Pace Without December Star Wars
Based on last year, Disney’s total earnings weren’t just off a smidge. They were off by 37% total. The bulk of that could be tied to the fact that there was no Star Wars in December. Disney’s earnings from Mary Poppins Returns, this past December’s offering, were $325 million, globally. Compare that to The Last Jedi the prior December, which brought in $1.3 billion, and, well, there’s a billion dollar difference right there.
Shareholders shouldn’t be rushing to drop their stock just yet, however. Disney’s earnings are assured to rebound in 2019. In fact, Disney could possibly recoup the bulk of its losses without even a single dollar from Star Wars. Let’s not forget Avengers: Endgame opens in just a couple of months. Plus, the new Disney+ streaming service debuts in 2019, as well. And then there’s Star Wars.
2019 will be a bonanza for the science fiction franchise, and consequently Disney’s earnings. Experts predict that Star Wars: Episode IX won’t top Endgame at the box office. Notwithstanding, it is the end of the Skywalker Saga. Despite the poor taste The Last Jedi left in many fans’ mouths, I wouldn’t be surprised if the final, episodic Star Wars film still smashed franchise records. Add in the Galaxy’s Edge theme parks opening (and all of the Galaxy’s Edge tie-in media products), The Mandalorian, The Clone Wars returning….
Sure, the first quarter figures may look bleak to the casual observer now. Talk to me at this time next year and I suspect we’ll be having a much different conversation about Disney’s earnings.