In a recent acknowledgment that may not come as a surprise to many, a major company, Disney, is acknowledging the detrimental impact of embracing woke Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) policies on its financial standing. The company has faced a downturn in its stock performance over recent years, experiencing a decline of nearly 17 percent in Disney shares within a five-year span, a stark contrast to the positive movements observed in indexes like the Dow Jones, which surged by approximately 38 percent during the same period.
Disney, candidly addressing some of its challenges, pointed out in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that ESG matters and related reporting obligations have the potential to affect its businesses adversely. Highlighting under the “risk assessment” section, Disney conceded that consumer perceptions of their position on public interest matters, particularly concerning environmental and social goals, significantly impact their revenues and profitability.
The SEC filing elucidated the profound impact consumer tastes and preferences wield on Disney’s revenue streams across various sectors, including advertising, affiliate and subscription fees, theatrical film receipts, theme park admissions, merchandise sales, and more. The company’s struggle with consumer acceptance concerning its entertainment offerings and its approach to environmental and social goals has posed reputational risks and challenges to its brands.
The struggle becomes apparent through the lackluster performances of recent Disney releases like “Marvels” and “Wish.” While “Marvels” managed to earn $47 million on its opening weekend, it significantly underperformed against the $270 million production cost, marking it as the worst-performing Marvel franchise offering. Similarly, “Wish” grossed $31.7 million over the Thanksgiving weekend but failed to compensate for the $175 million to $200 million production expenses.
In a contrasting narrative, “The Hunger Games” prequel film, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” outshone Disney’s releases by breaking franchise records and achieving a cumulative total gross of over $3 billion across five movies. The success of “Ballad” contradicted predictions made by some critics within the entertainment industry who anticipated a lukewarm reception due to the absence of the iconic protagonist, Katniss Everdeen.
Evidently, the box office triumph of “Ballad” exemplifies that audiences still value narratives featuring white male protagonists, showing a preference for such storytelling over what might be perceived as woke, virtue-signaling content disseminated by Disney. This success stands as a testament to the audience’s appetite for narratives that resonate, debunking assertions made by certain critics entrenched within the ESG realm and emphasizing the continued demand for compelling storytelling.