Disney shares fall after Avatar’s soft opening weekend

Avatar: The Way of Water

Courtesy: Disney Co.

Shares of Disney fell on Monday after a weaker-than-expected opening weekend for James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water.”

Disney shares closed up more than 4% at $85.78, after hitting a 52-week low. The company has seen its stock fall more than 40% in the past year.

Industry analysts hailed the long-awaited Avatar sequel as a box office winner for Disney and are looking at the holiday season as a rest period for the film.

The film grossed $134 million at the domestic box office during its opening weekend, falling short of analyst expectations of $175 million and Disney’s forecast of $135 million to $150 million .

Still, box office analysts aren’t worried just yet. Internationally, “Way of Water” grossed $300.5 million, bringing its opening weekend total to $434.5 million. The original film, released in 2009, earned just $77 million in its opening weekend, but went on to become the highest-grossing film of all time.

Deep down, Disney has faced challenges since the start of the pandemic, when movie theaters and theme parks were closed for months. The film industry is still crawling back, with the exception of hits like Paramount Global“Top Gun: Maverick”. Attendees at Disney’s theme parks have also been struggling with rising prices.

While Disney’s stock had surged during the pandemic when former CEO Bob Chapek helped weather the storm, reaching above $200 a share at one point in 2021, it has since fallen.

Chapek and Disney have faced scrutiny in recent months, particularly over the company’s performance. During its most recent quarterly earnings report, Disney missed key segment revenue and profit expectations, as both its media and parks divisions missed estimates. Chapek then warned that Disney’s streaming business could also see conical growth going forward.

Shortly thereafter, Disney’s board ousted Chapek and reinstated Bob Iger as the company’s CEO. Shortly after being reinstated, Iger released some of Chapek’s top lieutenants and said the company would focus on a restructuring of its media division.

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