‘Inside Out 2,’ ‘Deadpool 3’ & The Benefit of the Disney Bounce

deadpool & wolverine
The immense anticipation building toward Deadpool & Wolverine offers a genuine salve to Bob Iger’s struggling movie division. Photo: Jay Maidment/Marvel
Scott Mendelson
June 23, 2024

Don’t tell Nelson Peltz or Ron DeSantis, but it’s quickly becoming the summer of Disney at the box office. The extraordinary success of Inside Out 2, which has now soared past $355 million in North America and $720 million worldwide in less than two weeks, and the immense anticipation building toward Deadpool & Wolverine, which may open near Star Wars: The Force Awakens numbers ($248 million in 2015), offer a genuine salve to Bob Iger’s struggling movie division. Yes, it’s too early to say that Pixar is back, and far too early to suggest either that the MCU has returned to prominence, or even that the assets acquired in the Fox deal—from which Deadpool hails—are finally paying off for Disney. But the 2024 films—including two similar franchise plays in Moana 2 and Mufasa: The Lion King—will nevertheless help restore the company’s box office revenue to something approximating the pre-Covid era.

Disney’s magical theatrical run began almost a decade ago. The company neared $3 billion in domestic box office in 2016, and reached an insane-sounding $3.74 billion in 2019. Then came the pandemic, oversaturated franchises, and former C.E.O. Bob Chapek’s emphasis on Disney+. The company netted a mere $1.45 billion at the domestic box office last year—some 40 percent below its worst late-2010s year ($2.37 billion in 2017). This outcome was barely above Disney’s lowest-grossing year of the previous decade ($1.26 billion in 2011), inflation notwithstanding.