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Disney's film studio has no leader, but it kills at the box office anyway

"The Avengers" breaks box office records for its opening weekend. But will Wall Street be impressed?
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Just a few short weeks after Rich Ross was ousted as head of Walt Disney Studios, a movie that he oversaw laid waste to domestic box office records. "The Avengers" brought in $200 million, neatly decimating "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" by about...oh, maybe $30 million!

If you can believe it, it was all too little too late for Ross, who did have a slate of movies coming this year that look to rock the box office for Disney. But that evidently still doesn't mean that he knew what he was doing. At The Wrap, Brent Lang has a good take:

Even with Ross at the helm, Disney often appeared directionless. Though it was probably not his intent, Disney Production President Sean Bailey unwittingly acknowledged the studio's existential crisis at one point.

Bailey said the company has asked itself, "what does it mean to be a Disney movie...and it's a difficult question."

Among the answers he arrived at were that Disney films should "speak to the core of human experience" and show "the wonderment, the joy" of life.

Nothing like $200 million — more or less the budget of the mega-flop that occurred on Ross' watch, "John Carter" — to resolve an existential crisis. Lang goes on to argue that what it means to be a Disney movie is to be a superhero flick or something produced by Pixar, ideally with sequels and spin-offs in mind. Which suggests that the best way to resolve an existential crisis is to embrace a failure of imagination.

In any case, Walt Disney Studios still doesn't have a boss. But at the moment, that doesn't seem to matter all that much. That said, Disney has seen considerable overall weakness in its movie business. So while "The Avengers," as well as the related sequels to the films featuring the characters who make up the cast, could bode well for a comeback, there's still plenty of work to do.

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