Exploring the TRUTHS Behind the ‘Go Woke, Go Broke’ Mantra

Veritas Culture
9 min readMar 16

In 2022, there were five major animated releases that were reasonably expected to be big moneymakers. Two of them lived up to that — ‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’ and ‘Puss In Boots: The Last Wish’. Two of them were considered big box office disappointments — ‘Lightyear’ and ‘Strange World’. The fifth one, ‘DC League of Superpets’, was considered a middling success.

For those who follow the film industry and box office numbers, the lowly gross of ‘Lightyear’ ($118 million) was perplexing. After all, it was a Pixar property that was an extension of the wildly lucrative ‘Toy Story’ brand. For those who follow culture, both pop and societal, there was disappointment, but not as much surprise.

When the initial box office returns of ‘Lightyear’ started coming in, there were whispers that families were turned off by the LGTBQIA+ themes. These themes were discussed in the weeks leading up to the release. They tended to be initiated by conservative voices and debated over on other platforms and outlets. To be clear, the debate was around the viability of conservative voices suggesting that the film would bomb, this based on its attempts to be ‘woke’ .

Well, it bombed. There were also LGBTQIA+ themes in ‘Strange World’ and it made less ($38 million) in it’s entire run than ‘Lightyear’ made in one weekend. Indeed, a certifiable bomb.

Prior to the release of either film, Disney was under fire by some for ‘caving to woke ideologies and leaving families behind’ — this after initially not weighing in on a Florida bill that is famously referred to as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill; only to then get behind it. There was also pushback to the news that Disneyland and Disney World were removing “gender greetings” from its parks.

A few months later, Bob Iger was brought back in as Disney’s CEO — this to revive what was seen as a fledgling flagship company that, for decades, was seen as a model of consistent entertainment and hefty financial returns.

Meanwhile, ‘Minions: Rise of Gru’ made almost $400 million in the U.S. and ‘Puss In Boots: The Last Wish’ opened somewhat soft ($13 million), only to demonstrate long box office legs and gross $180 million — $60 million more than ‘Lightyear’. In other words, ‘Puss In Boots: The Last…

Veritas Culture

Two Culture and Diversity-to-Belonging Facilitators and Assessors. Focused on changing hearts and minds so that we can change the culture.