Disney’s first film with openly LGBTQ+ lead bombs at box office – and fans have a lot of thoughts
Disney’s first film with an openly gay protagonist has bombed at US box office leaving fans accusing the filmmaker of under-marketing.
Strange World follows Ethan Clade (Jaboukie Young-White) and Search Clade (Jake Gyllenhaal), as a family of explorers set out on a mission to save the planet from an ecological crisis.
It came to cinemas on 2 November, and after suffering disappointing previews, grossing at $800,000, it only gained $4.2 million on Wednesday – a poor result for the $180 million film.
Despite the abysmal box office figures, it has received standard mixed critical reviews and positive fan reaction across the board – leading many to question its poor performance
The LA Times praised the movie it for its “vibrant, weird, visually stunning subterranean world” and “thematic swings”.
While Vulture criticised it, saying “Much of Strange World’s audaciousness is front-loaded into its concept, and so little of it comes through in the execution.”
I have a lot of thoughts about Disney’s Strange World and the main one is that Ethan’s character is not only openly queer and pining after/flirting with another boy, but also has conversations with each member of his family about his budding relationship, which I fucking loved. pic.twitter.com/SeAa3PcY6G— BAD NEIL (@Neil_McNeil) November 25, 2022
#StrangeWorld was a total blast from beginning to end. It felt like a wonderful adventure that I was a part of alongside these characters. It possibly has the strongest family unit I've seen in a Disney film yet! It's a beautiful exploration of identity and family dynamics.— manda (@amxndareviews) November 19, 2022
I just saw the movie Strange World and I was very impressed! I hadn’t seen a Disney movie in a very long time and this movie let me know that they still have great stuff in the works. I would definitely recommend it~ ☺️?— ??Mia?? (@mizuka_bt) November 23, 2022
Watch @strangeworld today. What beautiful fun movie. It normalizes love in a way most movies don’t. Take the whole family. #StrangeWorld #loveislove pic.twitter.com/NVvh6lsmVz
— dloitz (@dloitz) November 24, 2022
Young-White himself has spoken about the impact he hopes his character will have on young LGBTQ+ people.
He told Geeks of Color: “In terms of Ethan the thing that’s really cool about him is that he’s able to come into his own in an environment that is ready to accept him and support him.
“Just in terms of that modelling and what that looks like, Ethan isn’t grappling with his queerness as this weighty thing. He just has a crush and that’s a universal experience that a lot of people can relate to.
“The most powerful thing is seeing yourself reflected in a way that is not making a big deal out of who you are.”
And so, LGBTQ+ fans have been vocal with their criticism of Disney’s marketing campaign in the lead up to the film’s release.
“I hate to be so cynical,” one person wrote, “but I can’t help but wonder if Disney’s lack of advertising [for] Strange World is due to the fact that there’s an openly gay main character.“
And another agreed, alleging: “Disney is known for this dirty trick of barely/poorly marketing a movie to “prove that certain movies don’t make money”.
This has led to many being concerned the box office failure will discourage Disney from investing in future queer films.
“It’s going to flop because they didn’t market it at all,” someone wrote, “they’ll use it as an excuse to not have queer rep ever again.”
This movie came out today and is Disney's first film with a lead character being LGBTQ and it actually being part of the movies plot.
They have been barely advertising it until the last week pic.twitter.com/hmU9OzSmnE— Michael Edwards (@MEdwardsVA) November 23, 2022
The thing that sucks about Strange World underperforming is that the usual chuds are gonna blame it solely on "being woke" instead of its horrible marketing campaign.— Jordan M. is Fully Vaccinated (@MovieMan995) November 24, 2022
Calling it now that #StrangeWorld vastly underperforms and the blame falls on queer representation and not the near total lack of marketing. Disney didn’t even try to help this one. pic.twitter.com/4RwNlgBCfk— Council of Geeks (@councilofgeeks) November 24, 2022
If #StrangeWorld bombs, it won't be because of the gay character or "WoKeNesS".
It'll be because Disney barely promoted it and that it only has a month in theatres before it's shoved to Disney+. Many people are going to wait that month.
Disney set Strange World up to fail.— The Nerdy Sasquatch RIP Bird App?️?? (@NerdySasquatch) November 24, 2022
If you want a gay princess/prince movie, you owe it to yourself to see this. Regardless of how good or bad it is, we need to show Disney that we’re done with tablescraps representation. #LGBTQ #Disney #StrangeWorld https://t.co/qBRRnTeDgT— Charles Moss – Creator of Detective Cat (@MossAnimation) November 18, 2022
I LOVED THIS MOVIE.
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— kyle?flx pictures (@flx_pictures) November 24, 2022
Strange World is out now in cinemas.
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