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Why Strange World Bombed At The Box Office

Holidays the Disney way. The entertainment mega-house usually finds a way to serve up some big-screen family fun during Thanksgiving week, and 2022 is no different. But what may surprise moviegoers is the holiday box office numbers coming in for "Strange World," Disney Studios' latest animated offering.

The film follows a team who sets out to find a solution to the danger that is plaguing the world of Avalonia. Avalonia's president, Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu), asks explorer Searcher Clade (Jake Gyllenhaal) for help. As shown in the film's trailers, Searcher is not thrilled about the idea, telling Callisto that he is nothing like his father, legendary explorer Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid), who disappeared years ago while on another expedition. Despite his reluctance, Searcher still jumps in to help. His wife Meridian (Gabrielle Union) and son Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White) join him for the adventure, along with their adorable three-legged dog Legend. While uncovering the secrets of a strange landscape, Searcher discovers his father, and the adventure becomes a family affair among three generations of the Clade family.

A Disney movie centered around family seems like it would be a popular Thanksgiving flick — not to mention that it boasts a star-studded voice cast. But according to reports, it still wasn't enough to send "Strange World" soaring to the top of the box office, and low numbers may have to do with major factors outside of the film itself.

Strange World's marketing push was virtually nonexistent

While "Strange World" may bring with it an entertaining tale, a fun cast of characters, and a lively, colorful aesthetic, which, theoretically, could combine to entice moviegoers to buy tickets, the film faced one massive issue: no one knew it was coming out. The marketing push for "Strange World" was virtually nonexistent in the lead-up to its theatrical debut, aside from a handful of trailers that, evidently, didn't do a great job pulling potential fans in. In fact, FandomWire points out that a concerning number of folks weren't even aware the movie existed until after it arrived on the silver screen.

For further evidence of just how minimal the advertising for "Strange World" was, we don't have to look back too far. Recent Disney efforts like "Lightyear" and "Encanto" were marketed heavily prior to their premieres, from teaser trailers to mountains of merchandise. Yes, "Lightyear" floundered in the financial department, but at least people were aware of its creation and somewhat motivated to see it thanks to its advertising campaign and ties to the "Toy Story" franchise. "Strange World" didn't have the benefit of strong marketing or connections to long-beloved animated films. Thus, as CBR notes, Disney practically sent "Strange World" out to die.

Another movie is still bringing in major revenue for Disney

According to The Hollywood Reporter, "Strange World" is estimated to make just $19 million over the course of the five-day holiday weekend. According to Yahoo! Entertainment, the film's original holiday projection was set at $30 million over the course of five days, which only makes up a slight chunk of the $120-130 million reportedly budgeted for the animated adventure. While the lack of proper marketing hasn't helped this number by any means, neither has the continued interest in the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe installment, "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever." 

Director Ryan Coogler's "Wakanda Forever" is having a super holiday with the film estimated to make at least a $60 million gross over the course of five days, taking the number one spot at the box office according to The Hollywood Reporter. The film first premiered during the second week of November, closing out the fourth phase of the MCU, ushering in a new era for Wakanda, and honoring the memory of the late Chadwick Boseman. With all of that in mind, it's clear that an already poorly-advertised "Strange World" had to fight an uphill battle right out of the gate if it wanted to make money. Suffice to say, it's losing.

How Strange World is entering Disney's history books

As noted by The Hollywood Reporter, "Strange World" has received a B on CinemaScore, which is the first time that a Disney Animation film has received a CinemaScore below an A in more than 30 years (via TheWrap). Meanwhile, the movie's Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score is currently at 73%. Looper's own review of the film gave it a score of eight out of 10, noting that obvious dialogue and some less-than-satisfying plot resolutions may leave moviegoers feeling so-so about the flick. However, the amazing visuals and plotline about the importance of family are two big positives, according to the review.

Yahoo! Entertainment compares "Strange World" to another Disney underperformer that also succumbed to a poor marketing push, 2002's "Treasure Planet." While it earned $16.6 million during its opening weekend, it has garnered a lot of praise among fans, with some calling for a live-action version of the adventure based on Robert Louis Stevenson's classic book "Treasure Island." So, maybe "Strange World" will garner even more positive attention down the road, becoming a fan-favorite for a new generation. Until that day comes, though, it will be looked at predominantly as a tragic box office bomb.