Disney Disasters: After Three Woke Flops In 2022, Will Animated Movies Ever Reclaim The Magic?

Even the most rabid Disney fans usually admit that newer animated movies from the studio lack the magic of past efforts.

Disney is often divided into eras of film, beginning with The Golden Age in 1937, which inspired such classics as “Snow White,” “Fantasia,” “Dumbo,” and “Bambi” to the highly-lauded Renaissance Era, which most film enthusiasts agree was the high point in the Disney timeline.

The Renaissance for Disney began in 1989 with the release of “The Little Mermaid” and continued on through the early ’90s with creative triumphs including, “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “Pocahontas,” and “The Lion King.”

That’s not to say that Disney hasn’t found success since that creative pinnacle. Beloved family films such as “Frozen” in 2013 and “Encanto” from 2021 were both highly successful examples from the modern era. But on the whole, Disney films have taken a financial nosedive in recent years, and in many ways, the company bowing down to woke overlords is to blame.

The company has been infiltrated by leftists top to bottom and all the way through. There are overt examples such as blatantly anti-white and LGBTQ propaganda in the animated series “The Proud Family: Louder And Prouder” to subtler efforts in almost every program the company produces.

Disney movies are no better. The past year alone has produced epic flops galore, and not just because the company went woke. New films aren’t just infused with hot button cultural issues like diversity, LGBTQ themes, and racial angles. They also suffer from the fatal flaw of being uninspired, boring, and forgettable.

Take the movie “Strange World,” which was released in November 2022. This original project follows a family of explorers called the Clades who discover a plant called Pando, which is used as a powerful energy source for civilization. The family reunites to discover why the plant is losing its potency decades after they discover this magical plant.

If you’re confused already, so are kids. But even if “Strange World” had a less bizarre storyline, it already had one strike against it before being released. The PG-rated film included an openly gay teenage character, which Production Designer for Animation Matthieu Saghezchi tweeted about in June before the film’s debut.

“Just saw the very first glimpse into #Disney‘s #StrangeWorld at the #Annecy2022 festival – it features the first openly gay teen romance in a disney feature!!! #RepresentationMatters,” he shared with a pride flag emoji.

“The scene describes the son being very shy in front of his boy crush, and his dad comes in and says ‘so nice to meet you! my son talks about you all the time’ and further embarrasses his son… very cute,” he added in a follow up.

The grandfather in the movie expresses no reaction upon hearing that his grandson Ethan has a crush on another boy either. This tidbit was lauded prior to the movie being released, leading many conservatives to boycott “Strange World.” But did that alone make it a failure?

There may never be a definitive answer to that question. But considering the star-studded cast including Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Jaboukie Young-White, Gabrielle Union, and Lucy Liu, plus the marketing efforts of the biggest media company in the world, there’s no good explanation for why “Strange World” was such an epic failure. As of January, the animated feature was poised to lose more than $100 million, per Variety.

With no catchy music and little inspiration for merchandising, there’s a good chance that “Strange World” would have flopped hard without the gay teen romance. But that aspect certainly didn’t help.

Another massive failure on the Disney docket was the highly anticipated spinoff in the “Toy Story” franchise, “Lightyear.” This movie served as the backstory to one of the main characters, a space robot toy named Buzz Lightyear. The “Toy Story” franchise is massively popular, as are the characters, but the film made several missteps along the way. The biggest problem was it came out just as Disney was seeking an opportunity for virtue signaling.

The big story surrounding “Lightyear” was a brief kiss between two female characters.

The scene in question was originally removed but then got reinstated following Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) introducing the Parental Rights in Education bill, which mainstream media erroneously dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

While critics lamented that no person in the state of Florida would ever be allowed to utter the word “gay” without getting arrested on the spot, anyone who actually read the text realized that the bill simply limited the ability of any K-3 teacher to discuss sexual topics with children. This applied to every educator regardless of whether they were advocating for conservative or liberal lessons.

Despite this fact, Disney reacted to the legislation by adding the same kiss between two female characters back into “Lightyear,” which caused a huge controversy among parents who believed it was inappropriate for a movie aimed at young children.

“The real truth is, those people are idiots,” actor Chris Evans, who voiced the main character in the film, told Reuters at the time. “Every time there’s been social advancement as we wake up, the American story, the human story is one of constant social awakening and growth and that’s what makes us good.”

Evans followed up by praising the addition of the kiss during a June 2022 interview with Variety.

After saying of the kiss scene that it’s “nice, and it’s wonderful, it makes me happy,” the actor continued, “It’s tough to not be a little frustrated that it even has to be a topic of discussion. That it is this kind of ‘news.’ The goal is that we can get to a point where it is the norm, and that this doesn’t have to be some uncharted waters, that eventually this is just the way it is. That representation across the board is how we make films.”

To the surprise of no one who has been paying attention, “Lightyear” was an epic fail from a financial standpoint. While all other “Toy Story” installments were huge hits, this spinoff earned an abysmal $226.4 million against a $200 million budget, meaning it likely lost money after factoring in marketing and other expenses.

Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer Peter Docter told The Wrap recently that executives are trying to figure out what happened with “Lightyear.” Though he conceded that the storyline was a bit of a stretch, Docter never acknowledged the same-sex kiss or how that may have contributed to the movie’s failure.

“We’ve done a lot of soul-searching about that because we all love the movie. We love the characters and the premise. I think probably what we’ve ended on in terms of what went wrong is that we asked too much of the audience,” the exec said during the interview.

“When they hear Buzz, they’re like, great, where’s Mr. Potato Head and Woody and Rex? And then we drop them into this science fiction film that they’re like, What?” Docter continued. “Even if they’ve read the material in press, it was just a little too distant, both in concept, and I think in the way that characters were drawn, that they were portrayed. It was much more of a science fiction.”

Another 2022 Disney project that left audiences less than thrilled was the coming of age movie, “Turning Red.” This animated feature didn’t include any overt LGBTQ themes, but it did give parents pause due to mature themes.

Critics of the animated film said the children in the movie are overtly disobedient and rude, plus there are sexual themes including the main character twerking as a panda in front of her mother while taunting her. There were also multiple examples of the main character Mei Lee rebelling against her “overbearing” Chinese-Canadian mother to the point of being disrespectful.

But even without all that questionable content, “Turning Red” still committed the cardinal sin of being uninspiring. It’s hard to imagine children clamoring to watch it over and over again like they still do with “Frozen” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

There have been some shake-ups at Disney in the wake of all these movie flops. The company reinstated longtime CEO Bob Iger after ousting Bob Chapek. Iger is a leftist, but he’s less interested in becoming mired in social controversies, or so he says. There’s a good chance that new Disney movies for kids will have fewer controversial scenes.

Two upcoming animated projects scheduled for 2023 releases are “Elemental,” a Pixar production about four elements trying to live in harmony, and “Wish,”a film about a girl in a magical kingdom whose wish comes true. Only time will tell if they fall victim to the same mediocre fate as so many other animated films Disney keeps pumping out.

Disclosure: The Daily Wire has announced plans for kids entertainment content.


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