OpEd: If Disney’s So Pro-LGBTQ+, Why Don’t They Commit ‘Strange World’ to Theaters?

Strange World Movie
Credit: Disney/Clip Art (Canva Creation)

Over the past week or so, it was revealed that Walt Disney Animation Studios’ upcoming feature film, Strange World, will feature the first-ever openly gay teen and possible gay teen relationship in Disney movie history.

Matthieu Saghezchi, who saw the first look at the movie at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, shared details of the clip that appears to confirm the first openly gay teen romance.

He explains:

“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.”

Such advancement in story inclusion is to be expected, especially after Pixar Animation Studios’ included a lesbian couple with children in its latest feature film, Lightyear, but there is just one thing on my mind: Why doesn’t Disney commit to putting such a representation-heavy film in the theaters?

When the first teaser trailer was released, Disney very noticeably omitted confirmation of the return of its Thanksgiving Week tradition of a theatrical release.

Check it out here for yourself:

Leaders in the Walt Disney Company, like CEO Bob Chapek and CCO Jennifer Lee, have insisted that the decision between movie theaters and a straight-to-streaming release on Disney+ comes down to choosing the optimal way to reach the target audience.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek said, “Audiences will be our ‘North Star’ as we determine how our content is distributed, and we do not subscribe to the belief that theatrical distribution is the only way to build a Disney franchise.”

Bob Chapek

Disney CEO Bob Chapek Credit: Disney

Related: Despite Quality Assurance, ‘Straight to Disney+’ Deems Movies Not Good Enough for Theaters

In other words, are people going to think this movie is worth putting in the extra time, money, and effort to see a new movie “the old-fashioned way”?

Disney’s distribution boss, Kareem Daniel’s last-minute decision to move Turning Red from a theatrical release to Disney+, suggests the Mouse House may still recognize its audience’s “hesitation” towards certain topics. And Lightyear’s utter failure in theaters, both regarding its domestic box office and its ban in 14 foreign markets–specifically due to its LGBTQ+ content–seems to only manifest that financial concern.

Buzz Lightyear Movie Reviews

Chris Evans stars in Lightyear as Buzz. Credit: Disney/Pixar

Disney and Pixar were adamant about retaining the entirety of their LGBTQ+ content in its Toy Story spinoff origin story. But the numbers are what they are.

Like it or not, though, the theatrical release still maintains its prestige as being reserved only for what is regarded as top-quality movies. And if Disney’s Encanto–which bombed in theaters–proved anything, it is that far more people are willing to fall in love with a new movie that comes free with a pre-existing subscription.

Disney’s Strange World is set to be a visually spectacular adventure with a star-studded cast: Dennis Quaid (Jaeger Clade), Jaboukie Young-White (Ethan Clade), Gabrielle Union (Meridian Clade), Jake Gyllenhaal (Searcher), and Lucy Liu (Callisto Mal). But will the powers that be choose to take another risk on yet another “progressive” story going to theaters? At this point, only time will tell.

Strange World

Strange World movie poster. Credit: Disney

Disney’s Strange World will be released somehow this November.

We at Disney Fanatic will continue to update our readers on Disney Movie news and stories as more developments come to light.

Disclaimer: This article contains opinions that are the writer’s own and may not reflect the sentiments of Disney Fanatic as a whole.

About T.K. Bosacki

Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, TK Bosacki is a professional writer, amateur adventurer, and lifelong Disney Fanatic. His Disney Park days include Space Mountain, Tower of Terror, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and Nomad Lounge. He believes in starting at the Canada pavilion (IYKYK), and the Monorail is superior to all Ferry Boats.

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