Disney’s ‘Strange World’ Set to Suffer $100 Million Box Office Loss

STRANGE WORLD, from left: Searcher Clade (voice: Jake Gyllenhaal), Jaeger Clade (voice: Dennis Quaid), Ethan Clade (voice: Jaboukie Young-White), 2022. © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

“Disney’s ‘Strange World’ Disappoints at Box Office During Thanksgiving Weekend”

Disney’s animated feature “Strange World” had a lackluster debut at the box office during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, falling significantly short of expectations. The film, directed by Don Hall, generated only $11.9 million from 4,174 theaters in North America over the weekend and $18.6 million over the five-day holiday frame. Initial projections had suggested earnings of $30 million to $40 million over this period, figures that would have been considered underwhelming.

“Strange World” now stands as one of Disney’s weakest opening weekends in recent history, surpassing only its pandemic-era release “West Side Story” ($10.5 million). It lagged considerably behind other family-oriented films like “Encanto” ($27.2 million over the traditional weekend and $40 million during the extended Thanksgiving holiday period) and “Lightyear” ($51 million).

The disappointing performance can be attributed to various factors. Disney has had a mixed track record with science fiction films, and the lack of buzz and moderate reviews did not bode well for “Strange World.” Additionally, the film faced controversy in several countries due to the presence of a same-sex relationship, leading to some territories refusing to screen it.

Strange World

Box office experts predict that “Strange World” is on track to lose at least $100 million during its theatrical run, making it challenging to recoup its $180 million production cost and significant marketing expenses. Even successful ancillary income may not be sufficient to offset the losses.

Overseas markets did not provide much relief, as the film garnered only $9.2 million from 43 markets and was excluded from major markets like China and Russia due to geopolitical tensions. Disney also chose not to submit the film to smaller markets, such as the Middle East, Malaysia, and Indonesia, because of the inclusion of a gay character.

Despite the financial impact, “Strange World” represents a broader trend of underperforming Disney animated films in recent years. Disney’s decision to release some Pixar films directly on Disney+ during the pandemic may have inadvertently influenced audiences to opt for streaming over theatrical releases. While financially the losses may not significantly impact Disney’s overall performance, the decline in its animation division, traditionally a flagship component, is of creative concern to the company.

Disney's Strange World regarded as the worst box office flop of 2022

In the current landscape, audiences remain selective about leaving their homes for theatrical experiences, with only established franchises like “Minions: The Rise of Gru” and “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” resonating with viewers in the past year. This shift is particularly challenging for family-friendly animated films, which once contributed substantially to annual box office returns.

“Strange World” featured a voice cast that included Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Jaboukie Young-White, and Gabrielle Union. Audience reactions to the film were mixed, with a “B” CinemaScore and a 73% average rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While praised for its visuals and diverse characters, the film received criticism for its relatively unoriginal storyline, preventing it from reaching the status of Disney classics.

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