Disney’s first animated movie with a prominent gay character bombs
In 2021, Disney greenlit Strange World, an animated movie about a family journeying through a mysterious land to save a resource that’s losing its energy. Bob Iger, who is returning to Disney to “save” it from Bob Chapek’s sad tenure, was still on board in 2021, so he must have greenlit it. That’s a relevant fact because the movie bombed at the box office. Coincidentally or not, the movie has an openly gay subtext as one of the main male characters crushes on another boy.
Before the movie opened, the media wanted audiences to know about the gay romance, probably under the mistaken belief that audiences would care:
Disney’s upcoming adventure film “Strange World” will feature a gay teen romance — the first in an animated feature produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios.
On Friday, Disney screened three sequences from the film at the 2022 Annecy International Animation Film Festival, one of the world’s most important festivals for the film animation industry that takes place in the city of Annecy, in southeast France.
In one of them, Ethan (Young-White) flirts with a boy named Diazo in front of his friends, who tease him in a friendly way.
His father, Searcher Clade (Gyllenhaal), later joins in and embarrasses him in “an overeager show of acceptance,” as the scene is described by Variety.
People in the entertainment world were charmed:
The scene describes the son being very shy in front of his boy crush, and his dad comes in and says “so nice to meet you! my son talks about you all the time” and further embarrasses his son 🙈😂 very cute.— Matthieu Saghezchi (@MSaghezchi) June 17, 2022
Not quite sure why audiences seem to be rejecting #StrangeWorld . I think it's a fun family film that's honest and earnest about its core themes in a way very few Disney films dare to be. It's also visually lush, accented by Jackman's beautiful score. https://t.co/j6728oxOJ7— Larry Fried (@_heylarry_) November 25, 2022
I LOVED THIS MOVIE.— kyle💡flx pictures (@flx_pictures) November 24, 2022
Ethan is such a good example of how I like to see Black & LGBTQ characters - LOVED. I NEVERR thought I’d see the day where I saw myself in a Disney character, representation is so so beautiful
Disney abandoned it so it would flop but GO SEE STRANGE WORLD! pic.twitter.com/Ap9ruTRV0O
Unfortunately for Disney, audiences were less charmed, so the movie bombed big time (h/t Not the Bee):
#StrangeWorld grossed a disappointing $4.2 million on Wednesday as it eyes a five-day haul of under $24 million. That’s a terrible result for Disney's $180 million-budgeted animated adventure. https://t.co/u0y4SqYfGl— Variety (@Variety) November 25, 2022
Some people think that the reason the movie bombed is that Disney failed to market it, perhaps intentionally:
Disney is 100% going to blame STRANGE WORLD's inevitable bad box office on the fact that there's an openly gay character in the movie when in reality, it's going to flop because they didn't market it at all. They'll use this as an excuse to not have queer rep ever again. pic.twitter.com/diD7It4Bk4— Jordan Woodson #GlassOnionSweep (@jordanjwoodson) November 17, 2022
Saw Strange World and I'll be damned, Disney Animation actually had a character that wasn't just lip service for online articles but now I wonder if that is the reason for the weak marketing/merch for this film. My theory: the execs want this film to go under the radar pic.twitter.com/OV3YgHPRQ5— Saberspark (@Saberspark) November 25, 2022
My suspicion is that, while many parents don’t want their kids to have thrust upon them even more pro-LGBTQ material than they’re already receiving in school, a big reason for the box office bomb may be that most heterosexuals just aren’t that interested in gay romance. They can’t relate to it, and they’re not impressed with Disney making such a niche film. Despite the left’s relentless “gay, gay, gay” push, gays are, on average, no more interesting than any other people, and things that are of unique interest to them, such as same-sex relationships, don’t change that fact.
But yeah, thinking about it some more, it’s probable that the failure is mostly because Disney isn’t supposed to be pushing children into a lifestyle that is unhealthy. No matter how the LGBTQ crowd tries to dress it up, we know that they have more substance abuse, partner abuse, depression, and suicide than the general population—and that’s true no matter how supportive the greater culture is.
Additionally, you only have to watch the videos the LGBTQ crowd posts on Twitter and TikTok to see that these are unhappy people. No parent wants that for his or her child. So, much as Disney wants to push the lifestyle, American parents don’t want that kind of pressure.