“Avatar: The Way of Water” couldn’t reverse Walt Disney Co.’s recent funk, which has the stock on a path for its worst year since 1974.
Disney shares DIS,
Disney had hoped to clean up in China, where the first movie in 2009 did blockbuster business. “The Way of Water” earned $57.1 million there, which Disney described in a Wall Street Journal report as disappointing but understandable.
“The problem is nobody wants to go to the cinema, because they’ve been told that COVID is extremely dangerous,” Tony Chambers, Disney’s global head of theatrical distribution, said in the article. “Although cinemas are open, the appetite for going to them isn’t really there.”
The news helped send Disney’s stock down 4.8% Monday, the biggest decline of the day for a Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA,
Disney stock hit $200 a share at its pandemic-era peak in March 2021, after Chief Executive Bob Chapek revealed early streaming success for Disney+. Chapek was replaced last month by predecessor Robert Iger after Disney missed revenue expectations by roughly $1 billion in the fiscal fourth quarter and provided a disappointing forecast.
Iger returns with some lowered targets — Disney is now worth $156 billion instead of more than $350 billion at its peak, and analysts have cut 20% from Disney’s earnings expectations for the new fiscal year. But “Avatar” ticket sales this month are expected to fuel the biggest revenue quarter of the year for Disney’s film business, which missed sales expectations by roughly $300 million last quarter.