Disney may be pushing away a key demographic – and not just from its movies.
The studio's latest offering to the "princess crowd" opens today, and it's been all over the news that the live-action Beauty and the Beast has a "gay" subplot. While the 1991 animated version was groundbreaking for its use of CGI (computer-generated imagery), the live-action film is breaking ground in a different way: the character LaFou has a gay crush on Gaston – and Disney has gone out of its way to hype the "exclusively gay" moment.
Will that have any effect on the target audience? According to Chris Stone of Faith Driven Consumer, it will on those who allow their beliefs to influence their entertainment choices.
Stone says 95 percent of the shoppers he tracks are less likely to see the new movie because of the "exclusively gay moment"; and he's talking 17 percent of the overall population and a full one-fourth of the practicing Christian population. (See complete survey results)
"Faith-driven consumers have been very active in rewarding filmmakers who do it right – and to not reward those that don't do it right," he adds.
These are consumers who say faith has a major influence on their entertainment choices. They've made major hits out of movies like The Passion of the Christ, the Kendrick Brothers' movies, and even Moses and Exodus: Gods and Kings. But Stone says these financial friends or foes won't stop at Beauty and the Beast.
"It's not just 'I'm unlikely' to see this movie," he explains. "[Fully 94 percent say] 'I'm less likely to do business with Disney as a whole' and [more than three-fourths] find that they 'don't meet my needs' [at all or only slightly well]."
Disney, says Stone, has "disconnected from the faith-driven consumer; and overall – with a series of decisions – has broken trust with faith-driven consumers."
Faith Driven Consumer's survey also asked about Disney's primary motivation behind the "gay moment" in this most recent release. Almost six in ten said "to normalize homosexuality." Fifteen percent felt it was "to reject biblical Christian values regarding homosexuality."