Gay characters in 'Frozen 2' or 'Star Wars' would spark box office backlash, experts warn

by Michael Foust, Guest Reviewer |

CHICAGO (Christian Examiner) -- The movement to place a gay or lesbian character in films such as "Frozen 2" and "Star Wars: Episode 8" would lead to a box office backlash, with Christians and other conservative moviegoers simply staying home.

That's according to two experts in the habits of Christian moviegoers who warn that if Disney bows to pressure and places a gay or lesbian character in the films, the bottom line – closely watched in Hollywood – would suffer.

The first "Frozen" movie, along with the entire "Star Wars" franchise, have been mostly viewed as family friendly and widely supported by conservative audiences.

"At the heart of every story that connects deeply with people is AUTHENTICITY. Forcing ANY agenda into an existing story will kill the authenticity," Ash Greyson, founder of the digital marketing company Ribbow Media, told Christian Examiner in an email interview. Ribbow markets films to Christians.

"I think that's what most audiences will find offensive. I mean, what if we started a petition to have 'Deadpool' find Jesus and become a crusader for Christ? How would that go over? If you are not authentic, it will cost you at the box office, period," Ribbow said.

The movement to place a gay or lesbian character in "Frozen 2" began with the "#GiveElsaAGirlfriend" movement on social media, and continued when Idina Menzel – the voice of Elsa – called the idea to make the lead character a lesbian "great."

In February, J.J. Abrams – the director of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" – said he could see a gay character appearing in a future film. Asked if it was possible, Abrams replied, according to The Daily Beast, "Of course. When I talk about inclusivity it's not excluding gay characters. It's about inclusivity. So, of course."

Bob Waliszewski, director of Focus on the Family's Plugged In department, said Disney should consider the financial fallout of either move. He is the author of the book "Plugged-In Parenting: How to Raise Media-Savvy Kids with Love, Not War."

"With almost 25 years under my belt talking to, and hearing from conservatives about popular entertainment, I can absolutely say that placing a prominent gay character in an-otherwise-family-friendly film will hurt the bottom line," Waliszewski told Christian Examiner.

"The problem is, though, if the two films mentioned above did it, the films would still make oodles and oodles of dollars. But thousands would stay home and would pledge to never rent or buy the film when it releases on DVD," Waliszewski continued. "If Hollywood wants to maximize revenue -- and who wouldn't? -- they'd steer clear of dealing with issues that alienate."