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Disney Blames The Marvels Failure on Wrong Targets

To be certain, The Marvels did have creative problems, as indicated by the fact the film spent nearly two years in post-production and underwent reportedly extensive reshoots and reedits. We personally did not care for the end result either. Nonetheless, suggesting that the film needed to be even more micromanaged than it already was betrays an arguable flaw in the Disney method over the last decade—and it certainly pushes the blame away from Disney’s larger problems that spread far beyond a couple of disappointing Marvel Studios releases.

There is no denying that in the case of Marvel, the studio’s president and unofficial authorial voice, Kevin Feige, has indeed been spread very thin the last few years, although for reasons more complex than just COVID. In fact, it was back in 2019 when the seeds for Disney’s current headaches seemed to have been sown. While the company line these days seems to be that Iger handed a well-oiled machine off to new CEO Bob Chapek, who then put too many eggs in the streaming basket because of the pandemic, that strategy actually began directly under Iger’s supervision.

It was even a point of crowing pride when Feige stood before San Diego Comic-Con Hall H audiences in 2019 and announced Disney would be bringing The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, WandaVision, Loki, What If… ?, and Hawkeye to Disney+ all within the streaming service’s first two years.

It’s become apparent in hindsight that this was a corporate initiative hoisted onto Feige and Marvel, with the golden goose being tasked with creating more streaming shows per year than films. Conceptually, this promised there would be a Marvel project within fans’ reach every fiscal quarter (potentially every month), but in execution it has clearly led to a degree of exhaustion and oversaturation with the brand. It also spread Feige and his people thin, as Iger attests.

Beyond Marvel, though, Disney’s pivot to prioritize streaming has weakened the entire theatrical model for the company. When COVID shut down movie theaters in 2020, releasing Pixar’s Soul to Disney+ for free seemed like a godsend to families forced to shelter in place during a holiday season. At least Disney isn’t making them wait over a year for a little Pixar escapism and bliss. But the company—now definitely under Chapek’s stewardship—then continued to release the next two Pixar films and next two Walt Disney Animation Studios films (Luca, Turning Red, Raya and the Last Dragon, and Encanto) either exclusively on Disney+, simultaneously on Disney+ and in theaters, or in an exceedingly brief theatrical window before going straight to Disney+, which was the emphasis in the marketing, in the case of Encanto.

The result has been families around the world being encouraged to no longer think of these films as the “events” Disney has been brilliantly selling them as for decades, but rather as disposable content to watch at home whenever. These movies were being released as loss leaders to prop up Disney+, with the intention of being able to go back to releasing the animated films theatrically at a later date. But when that date came with the release of films like last year’s Lightyear, or this month’s Wish, the result has been audiences genuinely tuning out. They know they can wait for Disney+.

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