STRANGE WORLD Needs A Better Name (Review)

The Disney film STRANGE WORLD has under-performed at the box office, and it’s likely because the name is just bad. The movie itself was actually fairly good.

In terms of box office revenue, when analysts say it has “under-performed”, I looked into the financials over at BoxOfficeMojo, and here’s what I gather: At box offices in the US, it pulled in basically the same amount its opening weekend, around $12M, that the new PUSS IN BOOTS movie did. But in the 4 weeks since then, STRANGE WORLD only made around $25M additionally in the US, whereas PUSS IN BOOTS, in just one week, earned twice that amount.

Notice I said “in the US”? I’m not even talking about International box office, because that’s absolutely influenced by a variety of factors, the most significant of which being the cause that many have pointed to as the reason the film is a financial flop. That reason? A homosexual as one of the primary characters in the film.

While that might be the reason certain countries don’t bring it into their theaters, it’s likely not the key contributing factor for ticket sales being low, unless it’s a reason that Disney didn’t do more to promote the film. The sexual preference of Ethan Clade, the youngest male of the Clade clan, isn’t “in your face”, nor is it played any differently than if Ethan had a crush on a female friend instead of a male. I don’t think younger members of the viewing audience are even likely to pick up on the minor plot point and think enough about it to talk about it after the film, and unless a parent is uncomfortable with it, I don’t think it will have much of an effect on the all-important revenue bolstering “repeat viewings”. Aside from a lot of its humor likely not resonating with younger audiences, a huge problem that STRANGE WORLD seems to not be able to overcome is its name.

I’m not intrigued or excited by the name “STRANGE WORLD”. It doesn’t lend itself to remembering any plot points from a trailer, aside from “this looks like a Dr Seuss rip-off”. But even a Dr Seuss movie would have a more interesting name. And the movie itself invokes comic book imagery, using the film’s title as the title of their in-film comic book. But even in real life, when DC comics has a comic book called “Strange Adventures”, the title is a dual reference to its main character, Adam STRANGE.

After the film, I was thinking about what some better titles could’ve been used to help garner more interest, and there were quite a few. While I won’t go through them here, I will say that something like “The CLADE Legacy” could have put more butts in seats, especially if there were some tweaks to the marketing and trailers. At the heart of the film, it’s about a famous adventurer who wants his son to follow in his footsteps (literally and figuratively), and the opening couple minutes of the film provides content ripe for use in a trailer to show that this is a multi-generational Adventure film that ends up in a strange setting. Most of the comedy is based on differences between generations and “ending up like your father despite your best efforts”. That’s why adults are going to enjoy it… but only if they end up going to the theater.

And that’s primarily why I don’t think that people gossiping about the minor plot point regarding one of the main characters being homosexual is the financial downfall of the film. Far more parents are disinterested in taking their kids to some “strange silly animated movie” because the parent (or grandparent) isn’t interested in “strange” movies. But a multi-generational adventure film? Sounds like a winner. And I honestly think that Disney could just rename it and re-release it without changing anything in the movie. ANYTHING.

Just tweak the trailer. That’s it. Because STRANGE WORLD is an entertaining movie. Perhaps it could use an injection of more humor, but with a different name, it might still be thriving in theaters instead of already making its streaming debut on Disney+.

My rating: 78 out of 100


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