A film’s failure can be so spectacular that a studio is obliged to modify its business practices. That is how badly Lightyear has failed.
With so much money behind these kind of summer films, major studios like Disney are becoming increasingly risk-averse, so it’s remarkable they chose to make a “statement film” about a lesbian couple and their child. However, despite its cultural relevance, identity politics does not guarantee that its audience will enjoy it.
‘Lightyear’ was expected to be a massive hit for Disney and Pixar. Expectations were far higher for than reality though because it only made $51 million over the weekend. Clearly the movie did not benefit from its connection to the beloved ‘Toy Story‘ franchise.
Now, Disney is in a very difficult position. Smart companies would see this terrible performance as a sign that changes must be implemented, but Disney has been overrun by ideologues and activists, and based on the backlash Bob Chapek received after suggesting Disney shouldn’t get involved in politics over the Parental Rights in Education law, there’s no way to predict what wrath will result in a course correction the studio desperately needs.
As WDW Pro says at ThatParkPlace, even while Disney can’t afford to lose this kind of money, they are in a rock and a hard place of their own making.
Whatever made Lightyear fail can’t happen again. The problem for Disney and for Pixar is that the failure of this film is squarely on the culture of those who inhabit Pixar. As an example, the same mistakes are on the docket for Strange World, the next theatrical release for Pixar. And the people at the studio are unlikely to accept defeat by pulling the problems out of the movie. That means a fight is brewing, or if Disney is so lucky, a purge.
For it was Pixar that used a divisive cultural moment to attempt mutiny against the Disney CEO, Bob Chapek, in order to restore a lesbian kiss to the Lightyear movie. That meant that the film was marketed and discussed in the press as a movie central to the culture war rather than a children’s space ranger flick. Never mind that the movie’s narrative revolves around the lesbian couple who become pregnant and have a family — to the point that Buzz Lightyear becomes the villain for attempting to complete the mission and thereby (somehow) remove the situation in which the couple could come together. Parents were already going to be thrown for a loop when they needed to explain how two mommies can make a baby, the kiss was just Pixar’s coup maximus.
But none of that worked. Disney has become a deeply politicized and divisive company. The people who regularly said “fine, go watch something else” are finally getting their way, then standing in stunned silence as they try to rationalize why an audience didn’t materialize. The mainstream media and the woke punditry have devolved into putrid stupor, presenting ridiculous reasons as to what has occurred.
It wasn’t Top Gun: Maverick or Jurassic Park Dominion that kept families away. It was the woke. WDW Pro lays out precisely why it failed so miserably.
- Disney became political and alienated half their customers.
- Half their customers (or less) came to Lightyear
- This backlash has been largely hidden until now by streaming.
- Disney management has likely seen this trend before the public saw it loud and clear via the box office.
- Stranger Things shows that the American public isn’t a puritan society — there’s a right way to handle sexual orientation issues.
- Putting sexual orientation issues in a children’s movie in such a way that forces parents to have “the talk” isn’t the right way.
- Turning Red already primed the public to be wary. Lightyear went way farther.
Can I also just say that I find it exceedingly funny that they released a movie that centers around a lesbian couple and the bad guy is a man who might accidentally erase their relationship… on Father’s Day Weekend.
Completely on point in every respect. So what will Disney do now? The corporation is run by a culture that is so radically left-wing that it is completely foreign to most of the world. What do you do when your studio is full of folks who can’t seem to get away from their ideology that’s at odds with majority of the world? It’s a major societal issue in America, and now it’s also a major business issue for Disney.
The bright side is that the next time CEO Bob Chapek makes a demand, Pixar will have no leverage to resist him. Pixar’s plan and vision, which they and others in the firm held just a week ago, are now a complete failure, completely abandoned, and done so in full public view. The question is, will Bob Chapek be a leader, or a coward?
WDW Pro summarizes his prediction for the Tragic Kingdom like so:
The pendulum has shifted. The near future isn’t woke. That means we’ll deal with the shrieks of true believers (i.e. the creatives at Disney), but the case is closed. Star Wars is hobbled. Marvel is moving downward. Pixar is pummeled. And all of it is a result of believing the world was willing to go woke along with them. But as they say, go woke…
We can only hope.