Disney, be it through their traditionally animated works or especially Pixar, has had a stranglehold on the Best Animated Feature race at the Oscars. The category began in 2001. Of the 21 winners, 15 are from the Mouse Factory. That includes 9 out of the last 10 (the outlier is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse).
The Disney domination appears fragile in 2022. Their adventure tale Strange World, focused on a legendary group of explorers, hits multiplexes over the Turkey Day weekend. Don Hall and Qui Nguyen direct with a voice cast including Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Jaboukie Young-White, Gabrielle Union, and Lucy Liu.
With its review embargo up, the Rotten Tomatoes meter is at 72%. That’s pretty low for this studio’s product. The Pixar offering from earlier in the year, Turning Red, sits at 95%. Now that World has been seen, it appears Red is Disney’s strongest contender to take the Academy’s prize. In fact, Strange World could miss the top five altogether.
However, Red is expected to come up short to Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio from Netflix. We were waiting to see if Strange could present a challenge. It will not and my Oscar prediction posts will continue…
The last time Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal played father and son, it was nearly 20 years ago in Roland Emmerich’s disaster epic The Day After Tomorrow. For the upcoming holiday, they’re family again in the Mouse Factory’s animated Strange World (out Wednesday November 23rd). Voicing a pair of explorers in the sci-fi themed adventure, Don Hall (who made Big Hero 6 and Raya and the Last Dragon) and Qui Nguyen direct. Other voices getting in on the action include Jaboukie Young-White, Gabrielle Union, and Lucy Liu.
Disney is no stranger to releasing high profile product over the long Turkey Day frame. Sometimes that’s Pixar material or traditionally drawn fare such as this. Frozen remains the gold standard. It debuted to $67 million for the Friday to Sunday portion of Thanksgiving weekend with $93 million when counting Wednesday and Thursday. Other Disney releases like Moana and Coco made off with $82 and $72 million over their respective first five. On the other hand, The Good Dinosaur grossed just under $40 million from Friday to Sunday in 2015 with $55 million for the extended period. Perhaps the best comp is last year’s Encanto. It made $27 million for the three-day with $40 million for the five.
The buzz seems strangely quiet considering the studio pedigree. I would argue Encanto had more heat before it opened. Strange could manage only a second place start behind the third outing for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (which does give Disney a one-two punch for the weekend). This might open a little closer to Dreamworks Animation’s Penguins of Madagascar from eight Thanksgivings ago at $25 million (Fri-Sun) and $35 million (Wed-Sun). It might even fall short of that.
Strange World opening weekend prediction: $19.3 million (Friday to Sunday); $26.7 million (Wednesday to Sunday)