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Woke Disney’s year of enduring box office bombs, subscriber losses and layoffs
February 25 2023, 08:00

February has been a cruel month for Disney as the giant corporation slashed 7,000 employees in mass layoffs and announced a 2.4-million subscriber loss to streaming service Disney+. All of this came as the network endured yet another woke controversy as a kids cartoon show on the streaming service lectured children about "white fragility" and denounced Abraham Lincoln. 

But these latest problems for Disney are not new and are only the latest in what is closing in on a year of woke disasters, instability at the top of the company and financial problems. Here are some of the many problems Disney has endured in 2022 and 2023. 

Last summer, Disney released "Lightyear," the newest film in the "Toy Story" franchise. It’s also the movie in which the left-leaning company replaced the politically independent Tim Allen with the liberal activist actor Chris Evans for a new version of the character. The move didn’t please a lot of people. Even noted Democrat (and "Toy Story" star) Tom Hanks found the replacement of Allen puzzling, saying, "I don’t understand that.

The children’s film also featured a same-sex kiss that was at first cut, then restored, amidst controversy relating to Disney speaking out over Florida’s parental rights law, often spun by critics as the "Don’t Say Gay" bill. 


"Lightyear" also ultimately became the lowest-grossing film in a franchise that has made over $3.3 billion so far and has been declared a "bomb" by several outlets. 

In an interview with The Wrap, Pixar COO Pete Docter seemed to put some of the blame on the audience. 

"I think probably what we’ve ended on in terms of what went wrong is that we asked too much of the audience. When they hear Buzz, they’re like, great, where’s Mr. Potato Head and Woody and Rex? And then we drop them into this science fiction film that they’re like, ‘What?’" he said.

In 2023, it was announced that Allen would be returning to the iconic character for "Toy Story 5" as Disney hopes for a restoration of the franchise. 


Another Disney movie did even worse, entering the outright disaster territory as the fall release of "Strange World" lost around $147 million. The film features the first openly LGBTQ+ teenaged Disney character, who discusses his crush in the movie. film critic Christian Toto told Fox News Digital last fall that "Hollywood doesn't fully grasp the ‘go woke, go broke’ mantra." Regarding edgy content in kids movies, he added, "In some cases, parents are avoiding content with sexual conversations. Parents are [savvier] today. They use social media and get feedback on films from their peers either online or in person." 


Disney CEO Bob Iger stepped down from his position in 2020. But in a surprise move, his successor, Bob Chapek, was replaced by Iger in late 2022. Upon his return, Iger indirectly addressed the dominant woke culture at the company, saying he wanted to "quiet things down." 

At a Disney town hall in November, he insisted, "Do I like the company being embroiled in controversy? Of course not. It can be distracting, and it can have a negative impact on the company. And to the extent that I can work to kind of quiet things down, I’m going to do that."

Iger’s second tenure at Disney began with two rough patches, first the revelation that the company’s streaming platform lost 2.4 million subscribers in the final quarter of 2022. According to Variety, the subscriber losses, which were bigger than projected, was attributed to "a 3.8 million sequential decline [from] Disney+ Hotstar, the version of the service offered in India and parts of Southeast Asia." 

Variety added, "Last year, Disney lost streaming rights to Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket matches, which prompted it to lower growth targets for Disney+ Hotstar in India."

At the same time, Disney also announced the company would be laying off 7,000 employees. That amounts to four percent of the entire workforce. Many conservatives on Twitter reacted with an "I told you so" attitude. Telegraph contributor Nile Gardner, a former aide to Margaret Thatcher, remarked, "’Woke Disney’ isn't working. Disney will sink unless it returns to its traditional roots and rejects far Left ideology." 

Radio host Clay Travis opined, "One year after Ron Desantis went to war with Disney, Desantis won re-election by 19 points, the largest victory in FL state history for a Republican governor, & Disney fired its CEO & just announced today it’s firing 7,000 more employees. What a win for Desantis & a loss for Disney. Get woke, go broke, y’all." 

However, it doesn’t seem as though Disney accepted that critique. In February 2023, the new season of The "Proud Family: Louder and Prouder" debuted on Disney+. The show, a revival of an early 2000s animated show, revolves around a group of kids growing up in modern America in 2023. 

The new season contains elements of Critical Race Theory, identifies one of the White characters in the show as guilty of "white fragility," denounces Abraham Lincoln as not "caring" about ending slavery, and had the children discuss toppling statues of people they disagree with. 

The young children in the show chanted that "emancipation isn’t freedom" and attacked the 16th president as wanting to "deport" Black people. Lincoln scholar David J. Kent told Fox News the show’s accusations were "a mix of misrepresentation, non sequitur, and falsehoods." 

Fox News Digital reached out to Disney for comment on the issues it has faced in 2022 and 2023, but did not hear back.