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Disney looks to lose around $100 million after 'Strange World' flops in Thanksgiving release

Disney's latest animated feature did not have a happy Thanksgiving.

By Matthew Jackson
Strange World (2022)

A holiday weekend is usually a great time to drop a big animated adventure from a major studio. Families are together, they're looking for ways to have fun, and taking the whole brood to the movies for a family-friendly story seems like a great option. But this Thanksgiving, moviegoers didn't turn out for Disney's Strange World, and now Disney's expected to take a major loss on the film. 

Variety reports that its sources are estimating Strange World could lose the House of Mouse "at least" $100 million by the end of its theatrical run, after the film opened to just $18.6 million in North America across the long Thanksgiving weekend. That put the film roughly 50 percent behind previous estimates, which put its projected take in the respectable-but-not-stellar $30-40 million range. That's a major underperformance for any Disney release, but especially for a grand animated feature opening on a holiday weekend when families can usually be counted on to flock to the multiplex for a bit of all-ages fun. 

Strange World, which follows a family of famous explorers as they head to a new land full of strange creatures and landscapes, cost roughly $180 million to produce, according to estimates. Throw in marketing costs for the film, and Disney is likely looking at about a $360 million box office take to break even. "Rival studios," according to Variety, think the film will fall far short of that number, with a domestic box office total somewhere in the neighborhood of $45 million, or roughly what it might have made in a weekend had box office expectations remained on track. 

So, what happened? So-so reviews, low levels of buzz, and a changing approach to going to the movies.

“Normally this time of year, a Disney family film is the big draw,” Paul Dergarabedian, a senior Comscore analyst, said. “It shows we’re still recovering and adapting to the constraints of the pandemic.”

At this point, unless some crazy word-of-mouth turns things around (unlikely given the film's B CinemaScore), Strange World is set to fall well behind fellow pandemic-era animated releases like Encanto and Lightyear, both of which underperformed by non-pandemic Disney standards but still managed to top $40 million on their opening weekends. The excitement just wasn't there this time around. 

Still, even if it underperforms financially, there will be plenty of time for Strange World to find its audience when it eventually makes its way to Disney+, much like Encanto became a viral sensation only when it finally hit the streamer. Plus, the weekend wasn't all bad news for Disney. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever remained atop the box office charts, with a long weekend haul of $64 million.

Looking for more kids movies in the meantime? Check out the Minions films, the Back to the Future trilogy, The Secret Life of Pets and more streaming now on Peacock.