Walt Disney Animation Studios’ newly-released feature Strange World has failed to make an impact at the box office, with many onlookers attributing its underperformance to lackluster marketing efforts on Disney’s part.
According to Variety, Strange World made $11.9 million domestically from 4,174 theaters over the weekend, with its total gross for the five-day Thanksgiving holiday frame coming in at $18.6 million stateside. Worldwide, the film has brought in $27.8 million. Nevertheless, Strange World‘s domestic opening haul of $18.6 comes in well below projections of $30-40 million, which are already fairly lukewarm numbers.
Strange World‘s opening weekend is also one of Disney’s worst in modern times, coming in just ahead of the 2021 remake of West Side Story, which made $10.5 million over its own opening weekend in December 2021. In fact, sources say that unless Strange World bounces back significantly — which seems unlikely at this stage — it will lose at least $100 million during its theatrical run. Given its production budget of $180 million and the additional marketing and distribution fees, the film apparently needs to gross approximately $360 million to break even.
“Normally this time of year, a Disney family film is the big draw. It shows we’re still recovering and adapting to the constraints of the pandemic,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior Comscore analyst. “This is a weak opening by Disney animation standards. At a cost of $180 million, plus marketing expenses, the film will finish in the red, even with good ancillary income,” added David A. Gross, who runs Franchise Entertainment Research, a movie consulting firm.
Strange World’s Box Office Mirrors Treasure Planet
On that note, however, many commentators and onlookers on social media seem convinced that Disney’s marketing of Strange World was exactly the problem. Numerous users claim to have seen virtually no promotional material for the film in the past few months, with things only just beginning to ramp up the week before its theatrical release.
Furthermore, many others have drawn parallels between Strange World and Disney’s 2002 animated feature Treasure Planet, which also failed to launch over Thanksgiving weekend 20 years ago following what was believed to be a similarly lackluster marketing campaign. Despite bombing at the box office, however, Treasure Planet did go on to amass a cult following over the years.
Strange World Is in Theaters Now
There are potential other reasons for Strange World‘s disappointing performance, with some speculating that its placement on Disney’s release scheduled also had something to do with it. Strange World premiered in theaters on Nov. 23 — less than two weeks after the premiere of Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and just over three weeks before the premiere of 20th Century Studios’ Avatar: The Way of Water, both tent pole titles falling under the Disney umbrella.
Reviews for Strange World have also been solid, but not spectacular. At the time of writing, the animated film holds an approval rating of 74 percent from critics on Rotten Tomatoes against an audience score of 60 percent. As Dergarabedian mentioned, the economy is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, with ongoing inflation potentially impacting moviegoers’ spending decisions.
Strange World is currently playing in theaters.