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The lone loser in Disney's big quarter: 'A Wrinkle in Time'

Daniel Roberts
Senior Writer

Walt Disney’s Q2 2018 earnings on Tuesday smashed Wall Street expectations and confirmed what filmgoers already knew: Marvel’s “Black Panther” was a massive, hulking winner for the Mouse House. The movie has now generated more than $1.3 billion at the box office, driving profits for Disney’s Studio Entertainment division up 29% to $847 million.

But there was a dark cloud in Disney’s film business in the quarter: “A Wrinkle in Time.” As Disney’s earnings release states, “The increase in theatrical distribution results was due to the success of Black Panther in the current quarter… This increase was partially offset by the performance of A Wrinkle in Time in the current quarter.”

Chris Pine at the world premiere of “A Wrinkle in Time” at the El Capitan Theatre on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Invision for Nissan North America/AP Images)

“A Wrinkle in Time” hit US theaters on March 9 after heavy marketing promotion by Disney and abundant media appearances by cast members like Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon, and director Ava DuVernay.

The movie bombed. It made $33 million in its opening weekend, compared to $202 million by “Black Panther” and $258 million for “Avengers: Infinity War.” It has grossed just $126.8 million globally to date, according to Box Office Mojo and confirmed by Disney.

Disney did not disclose in its earnings report exactly how much it lost on “A Wrinkle in Time,” but we can arrive at a ballpark figure using the film’s reported budget. The New York Times reported that the movie had a combined production and marketing budget of around $150 million, while Deadline pegged the budget much higher, at $250 million. Studios typically make back around half of the box office gross, which means Disney lost between $86 million and $186 million on “A Wrinkle in Time.” (Yahoo Finance has reached out to Disney for comment on the film’s losses.)

Disney’s 2012 movie “John Carter” famously flopped so brutally that Disney had to take a $200 million writedown on it. (The film had a $350 million budget and grossed just $284 million at the box office.) Disney did not disclose a writedown on “A Wrinkle in Time,” but the film was the clear and only big loser in Disney’s smash-hit box office performance in the second quarter.

Daniel Roberts covers sports business, tech, and media at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite

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