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Disney's Strange World bombs at the box office

Strange World
Strange World Disney

Disney's Strange World didn't have much to be thankful for this weekend.

The animated film bombed over Thanksgiving weekend with a surprisingly low five-day total of just $18.6 million domestically, among the worst openings for Disney animation in recent memory. For comparison, Pixar's The Good Dinosaur was considered a box office disappointment in 2015, and that debuted with $55 million over five days.

Strange World, which reportedly cost $180 million, is also Disney's second consecutive animated film to flame out at the box office after Lightyear bombed.

So what went wrong? Well, it's worth noting that Disney has struggled with animated sci-fi adventure films before, as 2001's Atlantis: The Lost Empire and 2002's Treasure Planet were both box office failures.

Beyond that, some analysts felt Strange World's marketing — or perceived lack thereof — left much to be desired, suggesting Disney was burying the movie. It's also possible Disney's recent habit of sending animated films to streaming, either instead of a theatrical release or only a few weeks after, has conditioned audiences to stay home and wait for Disney+.

As with Lightyear, there's sure to be debate over whether the presence of LGBTQ representation was a factor in the performance. Strange World was Disney's first animated film with a gay lead, a teenager whose crush on another boy is a subplot.

But it also could be purely the film itself that was the problem, as Strange World received weak word of mouth. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave it a B, a lower grade than any modern animated Disney movie. Since 1991, every film from Walt Disney Animation Studios received an A- CinemaScore or higher.

All in all, it's the kind of box office disaster that might ordinarily put the head of a company under pressure to explain what went wrong — though in this case, Disney CEO Bob Chapek was already fired days before Strange World's release.

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