Disney Headed Towards Its Worst Year In Half A Century

After Avatar: The Way of Water's disappointing opening weekend, Disney stock continues to drop at a pace that threatens to be its worst since 1974.

By Michileen Martin | Updated

disney worst

Disney stock is on a path that even the combined forces of the Avengers and the Jedi Council couldn’t save them from. Yahoo’s Market Watch reports that Disney’s stock numbers continue to plummet, threatening to bring them to their worst position since 1974. While the disappointing opening weekend box office returns for Avatar: The Way of Water are certainly contributing to the company’s woes, it hardly marks the beginning of Disney’s issues.

Market Watch says that 2022 has seen Disney’s broader S&P 500 index drop 19.9%, while the Dow has fallen 9.9%. On Monday alone, the company’s stock dropped 4.8% after news of the failure of Avatar: The Way of Water — which made $134 million on its opening weekend — to meet projections of $150 to $175 million. Disney stock’s closing price on Monday was $85.78; a few cents shy of becoming its worst showing since 2014.

In comparison, Market Watch notes, Disney hit $200 a share in 2021 after the since ousted CEO Bob Chapek announced Disney+ had succeeded in competing admirably against its many rivals like HBO Max and Netflix. Chapek’s firing and the return of Bob Iger as CEO are undoubtedly part of what’s leading Disney to its worst year, since the perception is that the company is struggling to find its footing.

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Avatar: The Way of Water will reportedly need to make $2 billion at the box office just to break even, according to director James Cameron.

Iger was called back to his old job after Chapek delivered the unhappy news that the company fell short of its revenue expectations by a whopping $1.5 billion. Disney’s worst losses were largely attributed to the operating costs of Disney+, presumably including the massive budgets for original series like The Mandalorian and many of its Marvel shows. It’s becoming an all too familiar story among companies running streaming platforms who put everything into becoming the streaming masters during the pandemic, arguably without knowing how their big-budget programming would translate into adequate profits.

Yet even outside of its streaming platform, Disney has suffered some of its worst blows this year. Even after the company began releasing films like Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in theaters, it continued to mostly release animated projects like Turning Red and Luca exclusive on Disney+. This year saw the company start finally releasing animated films in theaters, and the results so far haven’t been good.

Lightyear underperformed; proving financially and critically to be Disney’s worst-performing Toy Story film. Meanwhile, the more recent Strange World was a straight-up, unambiguous flop.

On the Marvel front, it would be perhaps too far to say it was Disney’s worst year, but it’s certainly been an interesting one. All three of the MCU’s blockbusters released this year — Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love and Thunder, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever — made money, though in a couple of cases at least didn’t prove as robust as their predecessors. While the Doctor Strange sequel’s earnings ($956 million) absolutely eclipse those of the original film ($678 million), neither Love and Thunder ($760 million vs. Ragnarok‘s $854 million) nor Wakanda Forever ($787 million vs. Black Panther‘s $1.4 billion) reached the profit heights of the movies that preceded them.