The failure of ‘Strange World’ comes from afar: the complicated history of fiascoes at Disney in its attempts to make science fiction

has been released ‘Strange world’ in Disney+ after a warm passage through movie theaters in which it has been considered a failuremaking only 60 million dollars with an estimated budget of 180. If we review the company’s most cinematic fantasy productions and its general-audience efforts with strong roots in science fictionwe find that they follow a pattern that is far from successful.

It is not the first time that the mouse house tries to fit the genre to its sensibilities, achieving a vacuum for the public, unfair in many cases, but in any case focused on a more or less constant pattern of failures since the 70s and that is replicated in this 2022 for a double game, if we count the effort of Pixar ‘lightyear‘ (2022), which we do not include here because separate the other animation company from these attemptsalthough not as disastrous at the box office, with equal reception by critics.

A Promising Beginning

However, the story was not always like this, the first Disney film to use cinemascope was adapting Jules Verne’s classic ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea‘ (1954) and was a great success with great actors, after an animated version had been discarded. It was directed by Richard Fleischer, who was the son of Max Fleischer, creator of the main rival animation studio. Within the confines of family cinema, he shot the most epic version of the story, even to this day. A classic of science fiction and adventure cinemawhose film sets would be used at Disneyland until the late 1960s.

Legend has it that The last thing Walt Disney wrote on his deathbed was Kurt Russell’s name.. Before becoming one of the gods of the fantastic with his collaborations with John Carpenter or Tarantino, the actor starred for Disney in a kind of youth scifi trilogy in which he obtained some superhuman power by accident. ‘my electronic brain‘ (1969) was the first of these, in which her brain turned into a supercomputer and spawned all sorts of silly situations of adorable and naive teen comedy, which led to a fad that did work for her in the children’s market.

Among a number of films that did dabble in science fiction in more or less original ways was ‘The haunted Mountain‘ (1975), in which two telekinetic orphans were persecuted by an evil rich man who wants to use them to expand his empire with their powers. It turns out that the kids are aliens but the whole town believes that they do witchcraft and end up chasing them. The children have to flee to the haunted mountain of the title where they will discover their origins where they gave Spielberg some idea or other for the end of ‘ET


Entering the dark age

It enjoyed a sequel and it was much better than its later versions, a TV movie in the 90s and a little-seen 2009 remake in which The Rock appeared, but it gave Disney the itch to get into more similar ideas until it stuck. big with’the black abyss‘ (1979), born in the shadow of the galactic success of George Lucas, was one of the first films from the production company with a slightly more “mature” tone. Without neglecting his vocation for cinema for the whole family.

‘The black abyss’ outlined by the moors of science fiction something thicker, taking advantage of the dawn of black hole science. Despite everything, he does not stop making concessions to the little ones, like the friendly robot Vincent. It had special effects from the post ‘Star Wars’ era and ended up looking like a revision of ‘Forbidden Planet’ with a certain vocation of looking something like ‘2001‘, with a rather curious ending even today. The company continued the streak with ‘thunder’ (1982) that has just turned 40 with a thematic Sitges as a tribute.

The Black Hole 1979

It was a proto-hacker epic that showed how the world of Atari, Spectrum and Amstrad games was cooler on the inside than on the outside. Although the first steps of computer graphics effects in the cinema are as exciting as doing an autocad practice, it had neon and bright colors and the Strokes honored it in a music video. Now it’s like the holy grail of those nostalgic for the old bit, getting a sequel to materialize 30 years later. More along the lines that fans of ‘stranger things‘ he was ‘the flight of the navigator‘ (1986), a rarity that didn’t do good numbers either.


Coming out of the 80’s

In science fiction, within the category of Mad Doctors, there are those who like to shrink people, from Doctor Pletorious from The Bride of Frankenstein to Dr Clyclops. But the real danger is when the father of ‘Darling, I shrunk the kids‘ (1989), a nondescript geek played by Rick Moranis, does his experiments in the attic, shrinking his children to cookie crumb size, who end up fighting spiders and scorpions. in the style of the shrinking man in a tribute to the B series of the 50s that ended up being a star attraction at Disneyworld, breaking the bad streak with the genre.

Perhaps the presence of Joe Johnston and Stuart Gordon had something to do with it, although perhaps not so much, because they smacked each other again with ‘Rocketeer‘ (1991), proof that Marvel didn’t need to look very hard when they set out to make their adaptation of Captain America. Johnston had practiced on a Cap essay, since he’s nothing but a superhero in the 40s who looks more like a cousin of Iron Man. However, he has his Nazi villains, his retro look and his naiveté spirit seems to take place in the same universe of ‘Agent Carter‘ or Indiana Jones. A true homage to the pulp serials that could be in a Scifi Steampunk gallery.


Within that period, rarities such as ‘Spaced invaders’ (1990), practically unknown in our country, a parody of alien invasion movies, anticipated ‘Mars Attacks’ by a few years, have been buried. Saving the distances, the most curious thing about this extraterrestrial epic is that its protagonists are the same invaders: a wayward group of Martians who arrive on earth by confusing a radio broadcast of Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds. It’s no masterpiece of satire, but it’s funny in its stupidityof the family of ‘howard the duck‘.

Unfair failures and others… not so much

Another of the most unfair failures in its darkest stage of the animated cinema was ‘The treasure Planet‘ (2002), which had all the ingredients missing from his vision of ‘Star Wars’ and which was accompanied by other fiascos such as ‘Minutemen’ (2008), one of his many films made directly for his television channel, all an alternative teen cinematography with poor production values ​​but with a great capacity to entertain. This was a little diversion with outcast teens who become time travelers. The passage from the Nerd to Heroes is reminiscent of wonders like ‘Explorers’ but low cost version. Despite limiting themselves to the cliché or chewing situations from other movies, they have a certain special charm.


Already in his stage of success there were attempts that have always ended badly. The most striking was ‘John Carter‘ (2012), which shook the foundations of the company due to one of the biggest economic disasters of his story. From the hand of Andrew Stanton, another director of the Pixar house such as Brad Bird and his ‘Tomorrowland’, they hit it at the box office with their contributions in real image to the house of Mickey Mouse. A failure in both cases quite unfair, since the first was a great adaptation of the Pulp work by the author of ‘Tarzan of the monkeys’, a true space opera and fantastic carousel made with passion and mega-budget, while Bird’s had a lot of charm and was full of inventiveness.

Wrinkle In Time

The last smack in the face of live action movies was ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ (2018), which in addition to making poor box office numbers was an unspeakable New Age kitsch, with Oprah Winfrey turning into a giant lettuce and a hallucinogenic carnival festival that may convince children to never set foot in a movie theater again for the rest of their lives. With its new animated attempts, Disney has not managed to break the cycle, but it can breathe easy as long as it maintains its rights to ‘Staw Wars’ to do all the experiments they can think of under that brand, that fans will see it the same.

The failure of ‘Strange World’ comes from afar: the complicated history of fiascoes at Disney in its attempts to make science fiction