Compared to a 2010 in which it released the two highest-grossing films, Walt Disney Pictures had a relatively lackluster 2011. The studio once again placed fourth among the six majors in total domestic grosses last year, and third globally, but its total receipts were down in both categories compared to the year before. And even Disney's hits—Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (over $1 billion worldwide) and Cars 2 ($559 million worldwide)—grossed less in the U.S. than their predecessors, though the studio had an unexpected success in The Help. However, Disney also accounted for the year's biggest box office flop: Mars Needs Moms, which earned under $40 million worldwide against a budget of $150 million.
Cars 2 wasn't just a slight disappointment at the box office; it also was the first Pixar film to date to fail to receive positive reviews from critics. Despite that rare misfire, Disney managed to increase its average Metascore by over four points compared to 2010, and the studio finished second in overall quality among the six majors. And Disney was the only major studio to score two best picture nominees (the aforementioned The Help, plus Steven Spielberg's War Horse) this year. The studio also released just one critical dud (I Am Number Four, also a bit of a box office failure) last year after releasing three such films in 2010.
Save for The Avengers, which should be a massive hit when it arrives in May, 2012 is shaping up to be relatively quiet for Disney. Success or failure will likely hinge on whether new, unproven properties like the sci-fi action film John Carter and the new Pixar title Brave connect with audiences.
|Film||Studio||Domestic Gross*||Metascore||User Score|
|The Muppets||Walt Disney||$87,314,426||75||7.8|
|Winnie the Pooh||Walt Disney||$26,692,846||74||7.5|
|Gnomeo and Juliet||Touchstone||$99,967,670||53||6.0|
|Mars Needs Moms||Walt Disney||$21,392,758||49||5.6|
|Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides||Walt Disney||$241,071,802||45||6.5|
|I Am Number Four||Touchstone||$55,100,437||36||6.2|