Did Disney Bury 'Strange World' Because of Gay Character?

Strange World
Strange World

Although it had a $180 million budget, the Disney animated adventure feature Strange World has picked up only (as of Tuesday) $18.8 million domestically and $9.4 million worldwide, for a total of $28.2 million, according to the latest information on Box Office Mojo.

It's “the worst opening for a Disney Animation Thanksgiving title in modern times,” The Hollywood Reporter notes,  although the article does go on to mention that overall fan attendance was down 53 percent from 2019 and 12 percent from last year.

Strange World features three generations of the Clade family and their adventures through “uncharted and treacherous land where fantastical creatures await,” as the Reporter puts it.

Fans, like the Reporter, think that poor marketing deserves a significant portion of blame. The animated tale included Disney’s first biracial gay teen, Ethan Clade (voiced by Jaboukie Young-White), with a small scene of him getting tongue-tied near his crush, Diazo — and there are those who think that led Disney to deliberately bury the film.

“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,” one moviegoer tweeted.

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Others are thinking along the same lines. “I’ve been to the movie theater over 100 times this year and I didn’t see a single trailer for Strange World,” another said. “They do it on purpose. They intentionally bury it so they can say ‘See? Nobody wants to see movies like this.’ Maybe they would if the studio promoted it.”

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But despite the currently lackluster box office, fans are sharing their love for the feature and its family across cyberspace.

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“I LOVED THIS MOVIE,” tweeted one fan. “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!”

Another said, “If you’re searching for a movie full of joy and creativity, go watch #StrangeWorld. It’s like embarking on an exciting adventure filled with laughs and surprises! @Disney is proving once again how a well-crafted story can shape the true power of imagination for all ages.”

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As for reviews on Google and such, as one person said, “The 1.7 on Google is greatly exaggerated. A bunch of fat boomer parents are just mad about the gay character. This is a good movie.” Another comment was “A lot of very sensitive people review bombing this. The movie is cute and enjoyable and the visuals are amazing. If you think gay people existing is them shoving their 'lifestyle' down your throat and struggle to have simple conversations with your children because of that then maybe just skip it. It’s a secondary plot line. Disney seems to be intentionally tanking this one with basically zero promotion anyway.”

/Film called out the review bombing on IMDB and other platforms and noted “the film's large budget, an unclear marketing campaign, allegedly rocky company politics,” in addition to citing the “overall lack of movie theater attendance this year.”

Disney recently fired CEO Bob Chapek and brought Bob Iger back to the position. Chapek had been criticized for, among other things, a belated and mishandled response to the "don't say gay" legislation in Florida, where Disney is the largest employer.