No Endgame in sight for Disney

Let’s say it out loud: the Walt Disney Company owns us. With a $1.2 billion worldwide opening, including a weekend gross of some ₹187 crore in India, Avengers: Endgame is well on its way to becoming a behemoth. Disney, of course, owns the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In India alone, the Disney marketing team has done a terrific job of manufacturing hype, which has translated into box-office gold. Getting Joe Russo, co-director of several of the Marvel films, to India was a great idea, as was Robert Downey Jr interacting with Indian fans via video link, and the Rajinikanth-like move of wall-to-wall screenings, beginning pre-dawn. Looking at the hordes of millennials losing their collective rags at these events, and singing along with AR Rahman’s specially composed Avengers anthem, it is also evident that in their cases, there is no need to manufacture hype; these are people in thrall to the MCU mythology. While Avengers: Endgame had no realistic competition from Indian movies, it did have to compete with two other popular entertainments – the IPL and the general elections – and so its triumph is all the more commendable.

Disney also owns Pixar, and Toy Story 4 is out in June. In March, Disney acquired Fox for the small matter of $71 billion. This means that every time you watch any of the Star channels or launch Hotstar, you’re in Disney land. Want to watch some sports on ESPN? Disney land. National Geographic? Disney land. Come December, if you’re planning to watch the final chapter of the saga from a galaxy far, far away, Disney owns Lucasfilm, the company behind the Star Wars franchise. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker may be the final film in this cycle of stories, but that doesn’t mean Disney is going to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Similarly, there appears to be the sense of an ending with Endgame being the 22nd and last film. Except, again, it is only the end of a cycle. You’ll have a very long wait, until July 5, to be precise, for the next Marvel movie, Spider-Man: Far From Home. After the Fox acquisition, the X -Men also belong to Disney and the next one, Dark Phoenix, is out June 7, and the one after that, The New Mutants, August 2. And for those faithful only to Marvel, there has been speculation about a Black Widow film, and sequels to Black Panther, Doctor Strange and Venom. Then of course, there is all the merchandising.

The upcoming Disney+ streaming platform is priced keenly — below Netflix levels — and will have lots of goodies, including the upcoming Star Wars live action spinoff space opera, The Mandalorian, and all the Marvel movies and their offshoots. Or, if you’d rather not bother with gigantic superhero movies, and would, say, watch Downhill, the American remake of European art-house hit, Force Majeure, it is produced by Disney’s Fox Searchlight. Or, if you just want a home grown fantasy like Brahmastra, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor, it is co-produced by Disney’s Fox Star Studios. Take my money now.

Naman Ramachandran is a journalist and author of Rajinikanth: The Definitive Biography, and tweets @namanrs


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