Disney Still Thinks the Audience is the Problem

Time and again, Hollywood sends the message that it refuses to learn from its mistakes. Sonny Bunch, the culture editor at The Bulwark, posted a screenshot of something Matt Belloni of Puck shared in his newsletter. It’s a direct message Belloni received from “a Disney executive” talking about the reasons why Disney’s movies are failing. You can read it below, but I’ll give you a quick preview: it’s your fault.

There’s nothing wrong with the movies; it’s because the audience hates women. In other words, these people don’t pay attention to anyone’s critiques of the films, or they just ignore them because they don’t want to listen. The idea that there’s nothing wrong with Disney’s movies is nonsense; I don’t know how you watch something like The Marvels or Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and say there’s no reason for anyone to dislike them aside from the prominence of female characters. And if you watch videos from any of the people on this side of film criticism – the Critical Drinker, Nerdrotic, Mauler, Little Platoon, and the like – they go into painstaking detail about why the movies don’t work. Mauler and Platoon make hours-long videos dissecting these films; they go deeper than “too many broads.” Also, if this guy bothered to look at the demographic breakdowns of those amazing, flawless Disney movies, he’d see that 68% of the people who saw The Marvels were men, even more than Quantumania, which was 61% men. The Rise of Skywalker also skewed male to the tune of 59%. If I can find that information, there’s no way Disney executives don’t know it; they just don’t care because it runs counter to their narrative.

And this is why I’m pessimistic about movies getting better anytime soon; people with this attitude will not change. They’re too ideologically devoted to consider that they may be making bad movies because a movie that has their beliefs in it can’t be bad. In a recent interview with Benny Johnson, Gary from Nerdrotic and the Critical Drinker talked about how there will inevitably be a sea change because the current status quo is proving to be too economically damaging, and they can’t afford to inundate audiences with their causes anymore. But I’m not as optimistic about it because I think, as Johnson suggests, they’re too devoted to their ideology to abandon it. Bob Iger’s a seventy-three-year-old worth almost $700 million; he can afford to let the ship sink as he escapes on his cash-green lifeboat. The Disney executive in the message whines about Iger’s “pivot,” but I’ll believe he’s on the level about that when I see it.

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