Nothing Captures Disney100 Like Lorcana

2023 marked Disney’s 100th anniversary, which has been celebrated throughout the year under the banner of Disney100. There have been events, movies, shorts, and a whole host of other ways the House of Mouse has chosen to celebrate its birthday, but deep down, it’s probably wishing it was any other year. Disney100 has been a bit of a flop, and the biggest shining light Disney has had this year is the arrival of TCG Disney Lorcana. That aside, this has been a pretty rotten birthday party for Disney.


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The tentpole of Disney100 was Wish. Not only was it a new Disney Princess movie, but its animation style and plot were built on the idea of celebrating Disney’s legacy. Unfortunately, either because of safe edits that took off any edges, general meddling because of the Disney100 branding, or it just being a bad film, it turned out that Wish was just a bad film.

Asha and Star in Wish

I wouldn’t usually be so dismissive out of hand, and I count Frozen amongst my all-time favourites (I watched it in the cinema again this year for Disney100), so it’s not snobbery either. But Wish is transparently manipulative in its reliance on Disney’s previous works and reduces them to passing, nonsensical Easter Eggs. It feels like an advert for better movies.

Wish is not the only miss for Disney this year. It’s the first non-pandemic year since 2014 that Disney has not had a billion dollar movie in cinemas, and given the gross of Mario, Barbie, and Oppenheimer, that’s not because audiences are staying away. Diminishing returns on old tricks and the consequences of Disney pulling movies from theatres to buff up Disney Plus have seen Disney’s birthday party ruined. Elemental’s early failure and eventual success still pales in the face of what its competitors managed to achieve, too.

Disney Plus itself doesn’t have a lot to hold up in its favour either. None of the Marvel shows have had the cultural impact WandaVision enjoyed in 2021, while on the animated side nothing has reached the heights of The Owl House – a show that had its finale under a cloud in 2023 after being cut short by executives in spite of its popularity. Prom Pact, one of Disney Plus’ live shows to debut this year, is best known for its emotionless VFX extras clapping along in the crowd.

It’s a far cry from 2019, when Disney had seven movies gross over $1 billion

Lorcana wasn’t actually part of Disney100. It didn’t have any of the Disney100 branding, it just so happened to release this year. But then, aside from Disney changing its logo and the Disney Plus start up screen, the likes of Ant-Man, Loki, and Prom Pact aren’t really part of it either. And if we’re counting the misses against it, we should include the hits too. Lorcana has had its own bumps in the road, but they’ve mainly been as a result of how big a hit it has been – supply chain problems, lack of stock, and scalpers profiting from the supply/demand imbalance – are all the sorts of things that will be fixed in the future. Reissues of the First Chapter even have revised boxes to counter pack tampering and scam sellers.

Despite the lack of branding though, Lorcana best represents Disney100 – it’s what Wish was supposed to do. Much like Wish Upon A Studio, the short film that also understood the spirit of Disney100, Lorcana takes what has made Disney so beloved over the past century and makes it feel fresh while still baking in that nostalgia. It welcomes all, introducing new players to the often complex world of TCGs with approachable mechanics and colourful branding.

Lorcana Pax Unplugged Promos

Like Wish was supposed to, it reimagines these classic characters in a new world where they interact freely, coming alive in our imaginations as something more than IP, something vastly more magical than commercials. We are not drawn to Disney because of the things Disney owns but because of the things Disney makes, and Disney100, particularly Wish, lost sight of this.

No billion dollar picture obviously stings the pockets, but with so many different properties, I have no idea whether this year is a success for Disney by the various complex metrics it may use to measure that. Indeed, different figures at Disney may come up with different answers for different reasons. But it is clear that, publicly at least, Disney100 has been a flop. Lorcana has been the bright spark for the year, and hopefully that magic lasts well into Disney101 and beyond.

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