One Of Thanksgiving’s Big Movie Releases Was A Massive Flop

Disney's new movie Strange World is expected to lose $147 million after a disastrous Thanksgiving opening weekend.

By Phillip Moyer | Published

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It turns out the disappointing Tuesday previews were no fluke. The latest animated film from Disney, Strange World, is a complete box office bomb. According to Deadlinethe $180 million film earned only $28 million in its opening week. The film is expected to lose an estimated $147 million when all is said and done. This is the biggest flop Disney has had since its fantastical sci-fi film Tomorrowland failed to attract an audience in 2015.

Disney Strange World
Strange World

Released in theaters this day before Thanksgiving, Disney’s Strange World follows a family of explorers who visit the distant planet Avalonia. The movie was reportedly inspired by old pulp magazines — a source of inspiration that has proved to be a losing bid in the past for Disney. Their 2012 flop John Carter was also based on pulp magazine stories — specifically, on a set of stories written by Edgar Rice Burroughs and published in All-Story Magazine in 1912.

The failure of this film comes shortly after an unexpected shake-up at the house of mouse. Disney officially released Strange World just three days after CEO Bob Chapek was abruptly replaced by Bob Iger. The reason behind the sudden change was never officially explained, but the now-former CEO was extremely unpopular with an outspoken group of fans. 

It’s possible that Chapek’s decision-making or his abrupt departure led to the film’s box office failure. Another possible reason that Disney’s Strange World is bombing could be that it’s simply… not great. It’s not bad, per se — It has a 73% from Rotten Tomatoes and a B from CinemaScore — but what’s average for most films is terrible for Disney.

In fact, it’s the lowest audience rating from CinemaScore that an animated Disney movie has ever received. It’s the same score that the abysmal Mars Needs Moms received back in 2011. The score is worse than the A- score received by both the 2005 financial flop Chicken Little and 2002’s underappreciated Treasure Planet. 

It doesn’t help that Disney chose to release Strange World while their own extremely-popular Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was still in theaters. The latest Marvel film has dominated box offices since its November 11 release, already earning $340 million domestically and $600 million worldwide. Two films theoretically have different target markets. However, it’s telling that despite, its utter failure, Strange World is still the second-highest-grossing film this week. In the face of Wakanda Forever, everything has failed.

Disney has released both Strange World and Disenchanted this week, and it has three more movies scheduled to release before the end of the year. The animated Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules will release on December 2, followed by Empire of Light on December 9 and Avatar: The Way of Water on December 16. After Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Disney won’t release another animated movie after Strange World for another six months. The company’s next scheduled animated film will be Pixar’s Elemental, which will release on June 16, 2023. 

On top of Disney’s failure with Strange World, the company has seen a 37% drop in its stock value since the beginning of the year. It remains to be seen whether the return of Bob Iger will help Disney turn its recent slump around.