Walt Disney Animation Studios' 61st animated film, Strange World, did not perform well over its opening weekend–despite critics and moviegoers giving it mostly positive reviews.
Homophobic conservatives, however, are claiming the animated adventure film tanked at the box office for being too "woke" by featuring a gay teen character.
Inspired by pulp magazines and sci-fi novels like Journey to the Center of the Earth, Strange World follows a family of legendary explorers on a subterranean expedition into a world full of alien life forms in an attempt to save their own world.
One of the main characters, Ethan–voiced by Jaboukie Young-White–has a crush on another male character his same age and is teased by their mutual friends and even encouraged by Ethan's father to pursue his romantic interest.
The normalization of LGBTQ+ youth in the film, which had nothing to do with the film's major plot, was the point of contention among conservatives like far-right political commentator Ben Shapiro who called for a boycott of the film.
The representation in the film is a reflection of real life, giving moviegoers a sense of relatability when experiencing the journey along with a cast of characters with diverse backgrounds–including a biracial couple and a disabled dog.
Unfortunately, Strange World essentially bombed over the Thanksgiving weekend–causing Disney to have a projected loss of about $147 million.
Bigoted critics blamed the disappointing numbers on Disney, claiming most American audiences didn't want the family-friendly studio forcing a "radical agenda" on them.
Strange World made a disappointing $11.9 million from 4,174 North American theaters over the weekend and $18.6 million over the five-day holiday frame, according to Variety.
Despite a new Disney film being a big family draw this time of year, senior Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian cited the disappointing numbers due to much of the country still "recovering and adapting to the constraints of the pandemic."
Some analysts think Disney's recent strategy of debuting feature films like Pixar's Luca and Soul directly on Disney+ inadvertently backfired as it made it preferable for families to pay the premium upcharge and watch new releases from home instead of in theaters.
Others believe Strange World failed due to Disney's poor marketing strategy or lack thereof.
Here's the trailer for the film.
Strange World | Official Traileryoutu.be
Regardless, the majority of Twitter gave a collective eye roll at conservatives for their unfounded claim.
Strange World was directed by Don Hall and written and co-directed by Qui Nguyen.
It features the vocal talents of Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Jaboukie Young-White, Gabrielle Union and Lucy Liu.
Young-White who voiced Ethan praised Disney for not making his gay teen character a coming-out story or about him "looking for acceptance of his identity" or "coming to terms with his identity."
Said the actor:
"I thought that was amazing and a beautiful thing to be a part of and show and something I wish that I had seen when I was that age."
Walt Disney Animation experienced a similar fallout with conservatives over Lightyear–an animated sci-fi adventure film focused on the titular hero that inspired the Toy Story action figure Buzz Lightyear.
The movie which was released in June had a blink-and-you'll-miss-it same-sex kiss.
It was enough for pearl-clutching conservatives to strongly advise against parents taking their kids to see the film.