Disney Suffers Worst Box Office Flop of 2023 (New Data)

By David Thompson Posted:
Disney castle, Disney logo

A new report highlighted one of Disney's most expensive recent films as the biggest box office flop of 2023.

2023 was an up-and-down year at the global box office, led by the late July dual openings of Barbie and Oppenheimer.

In a turn of events, Disney wasn't the champion of the box office last year, with Universal Pictures taking the crown with massive successes like The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Fast X.

Unfortunately, there were too many big swings and misses for the House of Mouse, with a reliable franchise letting the company down in a major way.

Disney's The Marvels Is A Major Box Office Flop

Captain Marvel in The Marvels

Deadline recently reported that The Marvels was the biggest box office flop of 2023, losing distributor Disney $237 million.

Starring Brie Larson, The Marvels is Marvel Studios' lowest-earning film to ever open in theaters, with $206.1 million worldwide. An even bigger issue was the cost. Deadline cited $455 million worth of total costs to produce, promote, and distribute.

This was one of the greatest dips in superhero sequel history, given that 2019's Captain Marvel earned $1.1 billion at the global box office. In 2020, Deadline reported that Captain Marvel had a net profit of $414 million, breaking even after just its first weekend in theaters.

Disney had other notable box office failures last year, including Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Wish, and Haunted Mansion.

These are the top five movies with the largest net losses of 2023, with The Marvels prominently losing Disney the most money:

  • The Marvels - $237 million
  • The Flash - $155 million
  • Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny - $143 million
  • Wish - $131 million
  • Haunted Mansion - $117 million

For the second consecutive year, Disney finds itself grappling with a major box office disappointment. 

Last year, Strange World lost the company an estimated $152.4 million. Notably, in 2022, Disney Animation and Pixar endured setbacks with two of the year's top five flops, including Strange World and Lightyear.

It is a growing concern as now Disney takes up four of the five biggest losers in 2023, with its most reliable breadwinner (the MCU) falling back down to Earth.

Will Marvel Studios Change Its Release Strategy?

Disney CEO Bob Iger recently revealed plans to reduce MCU content output over the coming years

That effect is already being felt in 2024, with only one film (Deadpool & Wolverine) releasing in theaters and two Disney+ shows, Echo and Agatha, streaming this year.

However going forward, he stated that the goal is to release two series a year with two or (maximum) three films opening in theaters.

The Marvels box office result in 2023 was the result of oversaturation from Marvel Studios and Disney over the past three years. Audiences weren't as invested in the next cinematic chapter of the MCU as they once were in 2019.

With wavering quality (Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania and Secret Invasion), it was already a rocky year for Marvel, but The Marvels truly showed the company that changes are needed.

In the past, MCU movies were guaranteed to at least turn a profit, if not set gargantuan box office records year after year.

Disney having a Marvel Studios film flop so aggressively is the difficult lesson that was probably needed for the company to retool and try and become as indestructible as it was during the 2010s.

The Marvels is now streaming on Disney+.

Read more about the box office below:

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10 Biggest Movies of 2024 Ranked by Box Office Earnings Potential

- In This Article: The Marvels
Release Date
November 10, 2023
- About The Author: David Thompson
As an editor, writer, and podcast host, David is a key member of The Direct. He is an expert at covering topics like Marvel, DC, Star Wars, and business-related news following the box office and streaming.