Disney CEO Bob Iger praises rival Universal's 'Super Mario Bros. Movie'

Key Points
  • Disney CEO Bob Iger kicked off the company's earnings call by praising rival Universal Studios' blockbuster "The Super Mario Bros. Movie."
  • The Nintendo-based flick has grossed over $1.1 billion worldwide, while Disney's recent animated offerings have struggled at the box office.

In this article

Chris Pratt and Charlie Day voice Mario and Luigi, respectively, in Universal and Illumination's "The Super Mario Bros. Movie."

The Magic Kingdom is a fan of the Mushroom Kingdom.

Disney CEO Bob Iger used part of his opening remarks during an earnings call Wednesday to praise rival Universal Studios' "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" and its success at the global box office.

"Allow me to digress for a moment to congratulate Universal for the tremendous success of 'Super Mario Bros.'" Iger said. "It certainly proves people love to be entertained in theaters around the world, and it gives us reason to be optimistic about the movie business."

Universal didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Iger's remarks.

"The Super Mario Bros. movie" has generated more than $1.1 billion globally since its early April release, proving that family-friendly films, particularly animated films, can succeed in the wake of the pandemic.

Disney's theatrical animated content has lagged at the box office since the pandemic. Some analysts blamed the sluggish ticket sales on confusion in the marketplace over which Disney films were streaming-only and which had wider theatrical releases. Others said Disney has done a poor job marketing its animated films to the public.

"Lightyear," a spinoff from the highly lucrative Toy Story series, tallied just over $200 million globally last summer, and fall's "Strange World" flopped with less than $100 million in global ticket sales.

Meanwhile, Universal has churned out hit after hit at the box office, with "Minions: The Rise of Gru" generating nearly $940 million globally and "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish" snaring nearly $500 million worldwide.

The widespread success of "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" could pave the way for Disney's upcoming releases, which include Pixar's "Elemental" and the Thanksgiving release "Wish." As parents and kids file into theaters to see the Nintendo-based flick, they were treated to ads for other upcoming animated features, including Disney's slate.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.