Raya and the Last Dragon Bombs

Raya and the Last Dragon Bombs

More bad news for Mickey the Great and Terrible.

(Let me start by saying this is an essay is not a review.  I have not seen Raya and the Last Dragon, and I strongly suspect I won’t be getting around to it even after it’s free.)

This was supposed to be Disney’s genuine comeback film. Sure, there have been a few releases since the plague hit town, but they weren’t the “real thing.”  They weren’t a genuine effort to blow the doors off at the boxoffice.

Artemis Fowl was released at the height of the pestilence back in June. It was the first time they had released anything since the lockdown started.  It was a bad movie and Disney knew it was full of suck.  They didn’t bother to expend any resources bumping up the score at Rotten Tomatoes, and brother that showed, Critical Score: 08%; Audience Score: 22%.

It was sent straight to Disney Plus.  When Trolls 2 went straight to streaming in May, the theaters screamed, bloody murder.  When Artemis Fowl came out a month later, they didn’t let out a peep.

The live action version of Mulan was also an epic fail, but again they had a number of excuses as to why this was a unique aberration.  And truth be told, some of these excuses were valid.  It wasn’t primarily made for the American market.  And unlike the live action versions of Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and the Lion King; this movie was not a beat for beat remake.  It was significantly rewritten and there were no musical numbers at all.  Mulan specifically targeted the China market this turned out to be a huge mistake because the Chinese loved the original Disney animated version of Mulan, they wanted more of that.  They have plenty of live action versions of the Mulan story, that they made themselves.  The producer’s response to Chinese complaints was a bunch of rather insulting Baizou pandering regarding what real Chinese people actually think.  The cherry on the sundae was the end credits where Disney formally thanked the Chinese security service that is in charge of the Uighur genocide.

But never mind all of that.

Raya and the Last Dragon is a Disney animated film.  The protagonist is kind of princess.  We got songs in this one.  We’re back baby!


The opening night numbers were 30% below expectations and the expected numbers were pretty low to start with at $12 million.  The actual haul was $8.5 million with a foreign gross of $1.26 million.

Again, China was the primary market for this film, and it’s being beaten in the Bejing theaters by holdovers that were released in previous weeks.

In America, it’s also being beaten by a holdover, Tom and Jerry.  Currently, the box-office take for the veteran cat and mouse team is $56 million worldwide.  (Finally, some good news for Warner)

If you have a Disney Plus subscription and are willing to pay a thirty-dollar upcharge on top of your monthly subscription, then you can watch Raya and The Last Dragon at home.  Or if you have HBOmax, you can watch Tom and Jerry for no additional fee at all. 

Disney doesn’t have any real choice about the box-office numbers, they have to report those.  But they under no compulsion to report the Disney Plus upcharge, and so they do not.  The thing is, when the ‘Return of Luke’ blew up big time, Disney was happy to publicly indicate that the viewership numbers had spiked and they had an influx of new subscriptions.

I’m not hearing anything out of Fort Mickey about the Raya and Last Dragon but doom and dread. Except for the critical score on Rotten Tomatoes, (they are tickled pink to have them in the nineties).  But that high of a number is usually a reliable indicator of greased palms and Woke plotlines. However, I am not in a position to know about either of those things.  

If Raya really is that good, then that is really BAD news for Disney.  

That means people are avoiding a good movie because the Disney name is on it. 

It honestly feels to me like there actually is a soft boycott of Disney going on.  They have just done so much that is openly wrong in the past year.  It’s leaving a bad taste in the mouths of people who normally wouldn’t care about these things.

If people really are avoiding a Disney movie because the Disney name is on it, then the brand damage is drastically more severe than I ever thought it was.

Okay, I’m done here.

Share this post

Comments (11)

  • Old Mouse Reply

    Raya isn’t that good, but neither is it truly bad by modern standards:

    Main character is a by-now-bog-standard Grrrl Power Fantasy who busts out Waif Fu so excessive Buffy would roll her eyes, but she’s not obnoxious in personality.

    Primary Antagonist is design-wise the most cartoonishly stereotypical bulldyke committed to animation since the Buffalo Gals of Cow and Chicken, but again it doesn’t carry over to her actual mannerisms.

    Moral Of The Day is “learning how to trust in others after being left out to hang by someone you loved when young”, but Raya’s trust issues are completely told-not-shown (she lets people tag along on her quest without a fight, and barely even loses patience when the Comic Relief causes problems)

    There is an extensive web of supporting characters, nearly all of whom are vastly more interesting than the protag, but sadly only get five minutes of limelight to show it off before fading into the background until the big Friendship Spirit Bomb climax.

    Whole movie is extremely exposition heavy; each and every new locale has to have the crew stop and get a tour guide monologue of its regional history and significance in the backstory of the War Against The True Big Bad because “WORLDBUILDING!!!”

    The Magic Animal Sidekick is the only outright atrocious aspect; she’s almost as badly designed as the G5 MLP trailer and so divorced from the art direction and palette of the rest of movie she looks photoshopped into every scene she’s in. She’s also voiced by yet another artificial, wannabe-ghetto Internet “Star” who, because she can’t get away with her trademark vulgarity, made her character literally retarded. Not “for emphasis”-literally, “actually”-literally. Her human form even has a pronounced overbite and lazy eyes so she even looks like she has moderately-severe autism.

    Getting past her though, the movie itself is bland. Everyone who has reviewed it has said some variation of “the whole thing felt weirdly paint-by-numbers.” They’ve taken the light-action/comedy/epiphanic drama recipe of their prior 3D Princess movies, and let it carry the story on autopilot as they stripped out every chance at pathos and individual charm for Raya to make room for lectures that scream “look how much we learned about Mainland Southeast Asian mythology in our five minute Wikipedia browse before each writing session, Overseas Audience!”

    It’s Dry Moana With A Full Cast.

    That being said, there is literally no reason for a Disney Animated Feature to flop, let alone in comparison to the complete and utter dreck that is Live Action Tom and Jerry. A formulaic and inoffensive new title is something modern consumers are primed to regard as “the best things can get”, and this film is better than its direct competition, however low a bar that is.

    You’re right Herald, people are fed up with Disney’s corporate gaffe-strings and have now begun to pass on even their decent output. It’s the only explanation for this that makes sense.

    My question is, if this trend holds (Chapek’s performance in the shareholder meeting the other day certainly shows that the Big D is not about to stop making unforced PR errors anytime soon) would it move up your predicted timetable for their financial collapse to a significant degree?

    March 11, 2021 at 5:42 am
    • The Dark Herald Reply

      “It’s Dry Moana With A Full Cast”

      Moana is definitely part of Raya’s problem. It was a movie that everyone decided they didn’t really like all that much after all, once they had a chance to think about it. The only reason Moana did as well as it did was that they advertised it as starring The Rock. And that turned out to be a bait and switch.

      March 11, 2021 at 2:41 pm
  • Modestus Reply

    That cover art alone is enough to drive away tons of people. That’s not a dragon, it’s some weird canid ripped straight from the notebook of a patreon smut artist

    March 11, 2021 at 6:13 pm
  • Tom Tap Reply

    When I saw the ads on television I thought it was a new DreamWorks film. It was only the second or third time through when I finally paid enough attention to realise it was Disney.

    They decided it was okay to kill the goose that laid the golden eggs because hey! this chicken over here identifies as a goose so move along, move along.

    Brother I HAVE moved along.

    March 11, 2021 at 6:17 pm
  • furor kek tonicus Reply

    That cover art alone is enough to drive away tons of people. That’s not a dragon,

    wut? that’s a dragon?
    Asian dragons have scales, if you’re trying to appeal to a Chinese audience why would you screw up the portrayal to make it a furry?
    is this another Kathleen project?

    March 11, 2021 at 9:34 pm
  • Dane Reply

    The Devil mouse will continue on this course no matter how much profit they leave in the pocket of the people, their owners have some very nice printers that go, “Brrrr” and the mission isn´t profit anymore, it´s propaganda.

    March 11, 2021 at 9:35 pm
  • 2bfree Reply

    You must be living in a cave to think the boycott of Disney is soft. I know hundreds of people who dropped their Disney subscription, because of Disney’s censorship, and woke preaching. Putting a warning on the Muppet Show was the last straw for many holdouts. It’s not a soft boycott, it’s a hard boycott.

    March 12, 2021 at 1:54 pm
  • Wazdaka Reply

    I find that mocking any childless adult with a Disney subscription gets the desired result

    March 14, 2021 at 9:58 am
  • Codex Reply

    As a result of this essay, I looked up some neutral YouTube show on it: The “here’s some Easter Eggs” basically friendly stuff.

    It looks lovely. The art team clearly culturally-approiated design motifs like there was no tomorrow. Clothing. Architecture. Landscape. Super pretty. Aaaaaany minute now some grifter is going to try to make WokeBank off that.

    It’s also literally a chick flick. Nobody on Main Team who is remotely human is male. Young Raya looks just like Korra and the main antagonist (a girl) is clearly her boyfriend. And did I mention all the boys erased?


    Add that to the $30 surcharge and most people are eh…. Maybe later. Even if it is not actual Greta Thunberg anime Ghostbusters, are you going to blow $30 to risk it?

    And that is just the people Disney didn’t torque off.

    March 16, 2021 at 4:11 am
  • Tugboots Willie Reply

    It’s a long, dreary and unfunny movie with substandard graphics and design. My two sons (10, 14) wanted to leave at half time.

    April 18, 2021 at 3:25 pm
  • Cindy Murdock Reply

    Refused to see this movie even when I can rent it for $0.58 at RedBox BECAUSE it’s Disney. They’ve pushed their agenda and their propaganda too far. As another said, it’s not a soft boycott, it’s a hard boycott. We are all disgusted that Disney has sunk so low into this woke culture. Their foundation has crumbled but I’m fortunate to have grown up when Disney made good movies and good decisions. The youth of today is left with nothing but sinking sand.

    June 11, 2021 at 12:59 pm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *