If you didn’t catch Disney’s animated family flick Strange World in theatres last year you’re certainly not alone. In fact, the movie has just been awarded the far-from-desirable title of the biggest box office flop of 2022 by Deadline.
The trade reports that producing Strange World cost Disney almost $320 million. This colossal figure is largely thanks to an obscene production budget of $180m, but a marketing spend of $90m further inflated the figure.
After such a significant outlay Disney was no doubt hoping for a hit in the vein of the Super Mario Bros Movie, but the animated movie made a disastrous $73m at the global box office. And even when factoring in money generated from its streaming and physical media release, Strange World’s total revenue stands at a relatively paltry $120m.
Putting the numbers together and the picture is far from rosy for Disney. Deadline reports that Strange World lost the media powerhouse $197m in total, a figure that eclipses other box failures in 2022 including Amsterdam ($108m in losses), Devotion ($89m) and Babylon ($87m).
2022 was a poor year for Disney animation all around. Strange World takes the crown as the biggest box office bomb, but in second place is Pixar’s Lightyear. The largely unnecessary Toy Story spinoff had production expenses of $373m but only generated $267m in revenue for total losses of more than $105m.
Does Strange World deserve a second chance?
Disney clearly knew the writing was on the wall when it came to Strange World and after its underperformance in theatres quickly transferred the movie over to its Disney Plus streaming service just a month after its release in cinemas.
Strange World enjoyed more success on streaming, and it quickly became the No.1 movie on Disney Plus over the holiday period. But it is nevertheless still tarred by its awful box office return.
There is a myriad of reasons why Strange World may have underperformed. These range from a bland premise to pretty underwhelming trailers. The fact the film featured Disney’s first openly LGBTQ lead character also sparked some controversy with more conservative moviegoers.
The lackluster reviews likely didn’t help much either. On Rotten Tomatoes, it scored 72% from critics with an audience score of 66%. These indicate a movie that is mostly serviceable but perhaps not worth the high cost of a trip to the movies for the entire family.
The film focuses on a legendary dynasty of explorers, the Calde family, as they set off on their most perilous adventure yet. Finding themselves in an uncharted land, filled with bizarre creatures and numerous threats, three generations of Clades will need to put their differences aside and work together if they’re to find a way home. The film’s cast includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Lucy Liu, Dennis Quaid and Jaboukie Young-White.
The movie is still streaming on Disney Plus, and while it’s far from a must-watch, it’s generally a charming adventure film that hits all the expected notes of a Disney animated feature. Its core message about the importance of family and working together to achieve your goals is as timely as ever, and the animation quality is of the usual high standard you’d expect from Disney Animation Studios. There are arguably movies more deserving of the label of biggest box office flop of 2022 than this one.
Definitely don’t expect a Strange World 2 though. There may have been some hope prior to release that this could be the start of another Disney mega-franchise ala Frozen. But after such a disappointing return on investment, don’t expect to be catching up with the Clade family any time soon.