Disney’s first film with openly LGBTQ+ lead bombs at box office – and fans have a lot of thoughts

Strange World flops at box office. (Disney)

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.” 

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.”

Strange World is out now in cinemas.