Was Disney’s Treatment of ‘Strange World’ Due to Its LGBTQ+ Character?

Strange World

Despite its substantial $180 million budget, Disney’s animated adventure film ‘StrangeWorld’ has struggled at the box office, grossing only $18.8 million domestically and $9.4 million worldwide as of Tuesday, for a total of $28.2 million, according to the latest data from Box Office Mojo.

The Hollywood Reporter notes that it’s ‘the worst opening for a Disney Animation Thanksgiving title in modern times.’ It’s worth noting, however, that overall attendance at theaters has been down by 53 percent from 2019 and 12 percent from the previous year.

‘StrangeWorld’ follows the Clade family through uncharted and treacherous lands inhabited by fantastical creatures. Poor marketing is a commonly cited reason for the film’s underperformance, despite being Disney’s first film to feature a biracial gay teenager, Ethan Clade, voiced by Jaboukie Young-White. In one scene, Ethan becomes tongue-tied around his crush, Diazo.

in a scene from Strange World, a large, burly man with a wild beard covers his ears, refusing to listen to a smaller man who tries to explain something to him; behind them, the background is warm pink and orange

Some fans believe that Disney intentionally buried the film due to this LGBTQ+ representation. One moviegoer tweeted, ‘Saw StrangeWorld 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.’

Others share similar suspicions, with one person remarking, ‘I’ve been to the movie theater over 100 times this year, and I didn’t see a single trailer for StrangeWorld. 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.’

Despite its underwhelming box office performance, fans of the film have been expressing their appreciation for its representation and storytelling. One fan tweeted, ‘I LOVED THIS MOVIE. Ethan is such a good example of how I like to see Black & LGBTQ characters—LOVED. I NEVER 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 fan encouraged others to watch the movie, saying, ‘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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