Disney Shows It Still Has Not Learned the Lessons From Its Woke Agenda Failures From Last Year

Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

One Pixar executive cites the audience as the cause as he looks back at one of the bigger woke agenda failures of 2022.

At the entertainment news outlet The Wrap, there is an interview with animation legend Pete Doctor about the recent announcement he is set to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Animated Film Association, ASIFA-Hollywood. In the course of the interview, Doctor discussed one of the titles he ushered in last year, “Lightyear”, and in particular what led to that movie becoming one of those on a list of failed enterprises for Disney.


As far as the corporation is concerned, The Disney Company would prefer not to relive the year 2022. Throughout the calendar year, the company had a dismal time of it. From social controversy to executive upheaval and numerous failed entertainment releases, the company capped it off with its stock plunging and devaluing the company by the billions.

After Disney chose to enter the Florida parental rights debate, the company saw its standing with the public diminish as well as having its special tax exemption carve-outs in Central Florida stripped by the state legislature. Much of this could be traced to a central mindset in the company; Disney has fully adopted a corporate policy of social activism. This policy was enthusiastically injected into many of its entertainment releases, and those were almost uniformly rejected by the marketplace.

One of those titles was “Lightyear,” which was released in theaters last summer. It was the origin story of one of the company’s beloved characters from the “Toy Story” franchise, Buzz Lightyear, but there were numerous departures away from the proven formula of that property. This was more of a real-life telling of the character the “toy” was based upon, as well as altering the voice talent by dispatching fan favorite Tim Allen and using actor Chris Evans. Another issue however was the inclusion of elements involving one character who was openly gay. 

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The revisionism about the film began to take place last summer when “Lightyear” disappointed on a noticeable level.  By the usual standards of the animation division Pixar, “Lightyear” was a notable failure. It opened as only the second-highest-grossing film its first weekend and limped forward from there. Measuring how big of a failure this became for the company is a tough metric to pin down, but factoring in its budget, marketing, and the final take for the studio, saying “Lightyear” served as a $100 million loss for Disney is not out of line, and it was likely more than that.

Doctor told The Wrap that they looked into things internally and came to a conclusion – the audience was not ready for such magnificence. 

“We’ve done a lot of soul-searching about that because we all love the movie. We love the characters and the premise. I think probably what we’ve ended on in terms of what went wrong is that we asked too much of the audience. “Even if they’ve read the material in press, it was just a little too distant, both in concept, and I think in the way that characters were drawn, that they were portrayed.

In truth, the audience did read that material in the press. In looking into the reasons for the failure many in the industry did not want to cite the homosexual elements as being influential in keeping audiences away. This is despite the fact that much of the pre-release hype centered on this component of the film. Two months ahead of release the company released a sizzle reel, with 30 minutes of content that was rather upfront about the gay elements.


Much of the press ahead of the release also touted this portion of the film, heralding it as a first in many ways and applauding the company for including these components. Then the audience walked away, and this led to what has become a regular activity at Disney; they lashed out at those avoiding their film. 

Director Angus McClane had some caustic responses on social media to the film’s poor performance. Actor Chris Evans went further, declaring people who were put off by the gay content were “idiots” and considered social “dinosaurs.” Cleverly he said this just ahead of the release of the film; telling potential ticket buyers how stupid they are is always a surefire winner of a promotional strategy.

Pete Doctor’s words today only reflect the lack of awareness that seems pervasive at Disney. In the face of all the social resistance, the company has received they continue to push this failed agenda. Disney willingly entered into the Florida teaching debate, and even after polls showed people turning away from the company’s position they sold the film with the upfront gay agenda items. 

This followed suit throughout the year in other Disney products. With “She-Hulk” they called the audience sexist, with “Obi Wan” there were accusations of sexism, and the holiday release “Strange World” was even more steeped in social messaging and was an even bigger commercial disaster. Yet the company moves forward with this failing strategy. It seems more than revealing that as Doctor says they did “soul searching” they came to a curious conclusion – It’s the audience who is to blame.



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