Why Disney’s Cruella Disappointed At The Box Office

When the first Cruella trailer was released, there was a nice buzz surrounding the origin story revolving around the 101 Dalmatians villain. The movie captured the audience’s attention because it felt very Joker-esque; While that wasn’t ultimately the case (it is a Disney product after all), the film was still released with positive reviews. However, despite the high critical reception, the Disney property was trounced by A Quiet Place Part II, which opened to an astounding $57 million, whereas Cruella garnered only $26 million following the holiday weekend. Cruella would go on to make $233.3 million worldwide, which usually isn’t bad for a film that came out during the pandemic; however, the production costs of the film were $200 million, Cruella needed to make $400 million worldwide just to break even. So, what happened? Obviously, the pandemic and the day-to-day release on Disney had something to do with the box office totals; however, Black Widow managed to make nearly $400 million under the same circumstances. Disney’s live-action adaptions have done well thus far, so there was no reason to assume that Cruella would end up being such a disappointment at the box office. Let’s dive deeper into the possible reasons that the Disney film was such a disappointment at the box office.

Audiences Felt That Cruella Was An Unnecessary Origin Story

Did we really need an origin story on the woman who wanted to turn puppies into fur coats? No, and based on the film itself, the movie never truly justifies its existence. The reasoning behind Cruella’s hatred for the Dalmatians is a sound idea in theory, but the execution was horrendous.  The Dalmatians killing Cruella’s mother was ridiculous, even though it’s revealed later on that the Baroness was the true mastermind behind the move. Disney’s need to humanize the villains by making them sympathetic backfired here, as it makes the villain’s overall story murky and counterpoints the trailer of the film. One of the statements that Cruella makes is that she was born brilliant, bad, and a little bit mad, which completely contradicts the nature of her origin story. Let’s not even get started on the nonsensical reasoning for her hair. Cruella had a chance to really do something cool and different within the Disney universe. However, Cruella’s backstory ended up being another formula live-action adaptation for their titular villain. Many audiences questioned whether a Cruella film was necessary, and based on the quality, no. Cruella is far from a BAD film, but audiences didn’t likely care about seeing the origins of the iconic villain. Cruella just didn’t have the lore like Joker, nor was there an in-demand want for a live-action adaption for the particular character.

The Comparisons To Joker Likely Didn’t Help

As previously stated, there was some solid buzz going into the film because the trailers made it seem Joker-esque. However, not everyone was impressed by the imitation. Watching the film, Cruella and Joker have nothing in common other than the color palette; however, it’s been noted how the Disney villain often comes across as a Batman villain. Hell, there’s a scene in that shows bats flying out of a building. Many hold Joker in high regard and likely didn’t appreciate Disney’s attempt to cash off the popular DC property. While it would be nothing new if a business copied a hot trend, Disney has a plethora of money-making properties thus I doubt that they were desperate enough to try and leech off the Joker film. Either way, some fans were likely turned off by the trailer and opted to skip the film altogether.

Disney’s Live-Action Adaption History Likely Stopped Fans From Checking Out The Latest Property

Disney’s live-action remakes of classic cartoons have been a success. Not every film has been a box office winner (Dumbo, Mulan), but their remakes tend to make over $500 million worldwide. However, there’s no denying that many believe that the cartoon counterparts are so much better. More often than not, the live-action remakes feel like cash grabs; Disney is smart enough to capitalize on a name property, but their live-action films won’t have the cultural impact that the original cartoons had upon release. Many of the audiences are fed up with the lazy reimagining of their beloved cartoons and have opted to stop purchasing a ticket to these cash grabs altogether. It should be interesting to see how The Little Mermaid performs. Mulan and Cruella haven’t exactly kept the property afloat; however, with the pandemic likely behind us in 2023, the box office will likely go back to normal. Can The Little Mermaid reach the billion-dollar club? We’ll find out in 2023.


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