Critics Can No Longer Blame ‘Wokeness’ For Theatrical Flop as ‘Strange World’ Dominates Disney+

When it was first released on Thanksgiving 2022, Strange World was a complete and total flop. The film brought in a mere 67 million dollars and lost over $100 million at the box office. There were a handful of reasons for this film’s lack of success, but many conservatives and critics alike blamed it on the movie’s ‘woke’ agenda.

However, the film’s release onto Disney’s streaming platform proves that ‘wokeness’ was a weak excuse for its unsuccessful theatrical run.

Just weeks after Strange World’s theatrical release, we were asking ourselves, “Will Disney+ Streaming Save ‘Strange World?’” As it turns out, it did!

strange world

Credit: Disney

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Strange World was quickly moved onto Disney+ (or Disney Plus) after it was realized that the film was only losing money in theaters. However, as of January 2, 2023, Strange World is the number-one film on the platform. So, if the film is doing well on Disney+ (Disney Plus), why wasn’t it as successful in theaters?

For one, the marketing was nowhere near as strong as previous films by Walt Disney Animation Studios. It almost seemed as if the studio was banking on its reputation as Disney to entice fans to the theater. Not only that, but it’s likely that the studio also wanted to keep the fantastical nature of the film as surprising as possible, so they revealed very little about the movie. However, this lack of information made Guests less interested instead of more interested in the film.

Another factor is the pandemic. Although the initial lockdown was nearly three years ago, we cannot deny that the two years spent living under the thumb of COVID-19 concerns has changed our culture forever. Many members of the general public are more selective of what movies they watch in theaters. Many simply wait for these movies to come to streaming or renting platforms instead of shelling out the big bucks to watch them on the big screen.

Combine heightened selectivity with the poor ratings Strange World received (it was the only film by Walt Disney Animation Studios to receive lower than an ‘A-’ on CinemaScores), and we can see why many audiences chose to pass on seeing the film in theaters.

disney strange world

Credit: Disney

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A significant factor is the fact that this film was banned in over 20 international markets due to onscreen LGBT representation. While Disney has released many films with a ‘first gay character’ (enough for Disney Tips to write an entire article on the subject), this is among the first to be viewed as real, actual representation.

The gay character in question is a teenage boy who is openly crushing on another teenage boy, who even returns the feelings in the end! This isn’t just an onscreen kiss that can easily be cut for international audiences. Instead, it was a bold move on Disney’s part to create arguably life-changing representation, especially for closeted gay youth.

Although many critics argue that including a gay romance and a diverse cast of characters and voice actors is too ‘woke’ for audiences to enjoy, it seems to be the opposite. Strange World has climbed to the top of Disney+ (Disney Plus) after just a short time.

Strange World stars actors such as Jake Gyllenhaal, Gabrielle Union, Lucy Liu, Jaboukie Young-White, and more.

strange world premiere

Credit: Disney

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While many critics argue that Disney doesn’t need to ‘get with the woke times,’ they seem to forget that Disney is the very sign of the times. The Walt Disney Company is one of the biggest powerhouses of culture in the world. Once it decides that something deserves to be normalized for an audience largely consisting of children, you can bet you’ll start seeing it normalized in other facets of culture too.

Disclaimer: Any opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s and may not reflect the opinions of Disney Tips as a whole. 

About Isabella Reimer

Isabella Reimer grew up visiting Walt Disney World and relocated to Central Florida to be even closer to The Most Magical Place on Earth. She earned her Bachelor’s from Florida State University, where she studied Creative Writing and Women’s Studies. Her biggest hobby is bonding with the ikran at Avatar Flight of Passage, and her retirement plan includes becoming the 1,000 Happy Haunt of the Haunted Mansion.