Family Fun vs. Sealing: Why Minions Succeeded and Disney's Lightyear Failed

It only took one opening weekend for Universal Studios’ ‘Minions: Rise of Gru’ to surpass the meager worldwide box office of more than two weeks of airing of ‘Lightyear’, from Universal Studios. Disney. The animated spinoff from the ‘Despicable Me’ franchise has grossed over US$ 187 worldwide box office, from July 1st to 3rd, while the production linked to ‘Toy Story’ made US$ 187 million in the first 15 days on display. Among the many hypotheses that try to explain Disney’s astronaut rejection, the biggest one seems to be linked to what families expect from an animated film: ideology-free entertainment for all ages.

Ever since deciding to move away from the founder’s vision, who kept politics away from his films and parks, Disney has been feeling the impacts of betting on a progressive agenda in its productions. In April, a survey of US voters by the Trafalgar Group showed that 68% of them were less likely to do business with the company after the news that their plans included the insertion of sexual ideology in content for children. In addition, 70% of respondents were willing to support” family alternatives” to Disney.

On the eve of its release, ‘Lightyear’ was criticized on the internet for promoting a lesbian kiss scene – which led to the film being banned in more than a dozen countries in the Middle East and Asia. “Disney’s decision to spend a few minutes on screen reminding us that it’s a gay-friendly company could have cost millions in ticket sales for what was supposed to be its mega-hit. Pixar’s annual Disney has to consider the idea that there may be many Pixar fans who have no problem with gay marriage and who would nevertheless prefer the subject to be left out of children’s films.” .

Cansaço de agenda política em produções cujo objetivo deveria ser entretenimento livre de ideologias parece ter afastado público de Lightyear, da Disney
Fatigue of political agenda in productions whose objective should being entertainment free of ideology seems to have alienated audiences from Disney’s Lightyear
| Disney/Disney/Pixar

What the public wants

Beyond an isolated scene kissing, in Kyle Smith’s opinion, the animation’s box office failure is linked to a deeper departure from Hollywood, and consequently from Disney, from its initial vocation: “to give the public what they wanted”.

“Today the message from Hollywood is: ‘Let us entertain you! But first, a short talk about what’s wrong with you, the audience…’. These are important subjects, but people go to the movies mostly to get away. One reason ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ is such a hit – the biggest movie of Tom Cruise’s career and probably the biggest movie of this year – is that it simply ignores all the controversial real-world issues. Maverick seeks only to entertain, not to persuade you that the people who made it are virtuous”, analyzes the critic.

Until this week, ‘Top Gun’ had already raised more than US$ 1. ,07 billion worldwide (with US$ 480 million in the US), beating Titanic, which until then added up to the highest grossing in Paramount’s history in the United States. .

It is precisely at this point that ‘Lightyear’ fails, and ‘Minions: Rise of Gru’, like ‘Top Gun’, knows how to attract audiences — offering fun free of political message. . “I wanted to take my family to this movie . I chose not to do it because I’m tired of a woken agenda,” former Trump White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on a Fox show. “I don’t care what it is, any agenda, right, left, being shoved in my face. I just wanted to watch a movie about toys.”

“Maybe Disney and Pixar could focus on telling a story instead of distributing advertising to children,” he opined, through the Twitter, Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson, classifying the failure of ‘Lightyear’ as a “revenge of the market”, which has already shown that the bet on political militancy drives families away.

Another controversy of the Disney animation was the casting of Chris Evans for the voice of Buzz Lightyear, in place of the creator of the role, Tim Allen, known for his more conservative political views. Evans, by the way, called the critics of the gay kiss in the film “idiots”. “The truth is, these people are idiots. I mean, I think throughout history, you can see every time there’s been social advancement when we wake up, American history, human history, is one of constant awakening and social growth. That’s it. that is good for us”, he said.

Cinema did not give way to streaming

Earlier this year, when explaining the decision not to distribute ‘Red – Growing Up’ in theaters (which went straight to Disney streaming

+), Disney’s President of Distribution , Kareem Daniel mentioned that family movies were still struggling to reach pre-pandemic box office levels. This was a justification invoked to try to explain the box office failure of Lightyear (first theatrically released since, whose production costs were US$ 2022 million).

The hypothesis that families get used to am staying at home and waiting for movies to arrive on streaming services falls apart in the face of the public success of ‘Minions’, the highest-grossing family film since the closing of theaters due to the pandemic.

For some critics, the script also explains the performance of both animations. There are those who consider ‘Lightyear’ too adult and not connected to the plot of ‘Toy Story’. In addition, marketing failed to communicate the purpose of the spin-off (the plot brings a kind of film within the film, to tell the story of the hero that would have inspired the Buzz Lightyear toy). Consequently, the public may have had difficulty understanding what animation is about, in addition to the already known controversies.

‘Minions 2’ already triumphs for its more direct connection with the franchise ‘ Despicable Me’ (the film shows Gru’s childhood and early interactions with the Minions) and slapstick humor, which conquers all audiences. A success on social media, the film gave rise to memes and even a trend on TikTok, the GentleMinions, which has led young people from all over the world to go dressed in suits to movie sessions. With no need for mental gymnastics to understand the animation, the audience was on board and the trend is for new box office records.


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