Disney's live-action remakes have been a solid source of box office dollars for the studio. It's the reason we've been seeing so many of them in recent years. However, it's possible that we might be seeing the first crack in that armor, as Dumbo has certainly not been performing as expected, which could result in the film not making a profit for Disney, and certainly not making the sort of profit the studio is used to seeing.
Dumbo brought in less than $20 million over this past weekend, its second weekend in wide release. That's over a 60% drop from its opening weekend numbers. While it's fairly normal to see major blockbusters drop 60% or more from opening weekend, it's less usual for Disney family films. Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella both dropped less than 50% in their second weekend, Maleficent fell on slightly more than 50%.
Dumbo's domestic total is now at $76 million. With Laika's Missing Link, another movie with family appeal, as well as other tent pole releases on the way, it seems Dumbo may struggle to break the $100 million mark domestically. Previously, that goal seemed to be much more likely.
Globally, Dumbo is doing a little better, but still below expectations. The movie currently sits at $213 million which isn't the worst number in the world for a film with an estimated production budget of $170 million. That number doesn't include marketing costs, so the total budget for the film is probably somewhere around $200 million or more.
Even if Dumbo is able to pull out a bit of profit over the next few weeks, it looks like Dumbo will likely end its run on the bleeding edge of breaking even. It might lose a bit of money, though probably not much. It might end up making money, though probably not much.
Financially struggling is not the standard state for a Disney remake. While they don't always make $1 billion the way Beauty and Beast did, Disney's remakes tend to have no problem making money. They do this despite the fact that they don't all get glowing reviews, so the fact that Dumbo didn't blow over the critics likely isn't the reason it's not doing well.
Perhaps Dumbo went a little too deep into the Disney back catalog. It's the oldest of the animated features that Disney has remade and maybe the original story just didn't resonate with fans the way some of the more recent Disney classics have done.
Ironically, the original animated Dumbo was one of the studio's few success stories in an era of financial difficulties. The original movie was released during World War II when most overseas theatrical markets were closed to the studio. Pinocchio and Fantasia were both flops, but Dumbo somehow beat the odds and became a hit. Now, it looks like Dumbo might end up one of the low points on what will otherwise certainly be a huge box office year for Disney.