Of the major U.S. film studios, Walt Disney Studios may be the most recognizable, with a well-defined brand identity that it has spread on an international scale. Certainly, most Americans could name several Disney titles if asked, as many have left a lasting impression since childhood. In fact, since the first Disney feature film in 1937 (Snow White), entertainment for children and families has been a primary focus for the company that continues to this day.
Many of Disney’s most famous distribution imprints are best known for their animated features, including Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, and the Japan-based Studio Ghibli, for which Disney holds U.S. and international distribution rights. On the live action side, the imprints include Walt Disney Pictures, Disneynature, Lucasfilm (best known for the Star Wars saga), and Touchstone Pictures. They also recently acquired Marvel Studios, with whom they released the summer blockbuster The Avengers in 2012. Walt Disney Studios has the weakest historical record when it comes to LGBT-inclusive films of the studios tracked in this report, with the animated divisions having no content to speak of. Touchstone Pictures however, has released a small handful of films with LGBT characters over the years, including the British comedic drama Kinky Boots (2006), Tim Burton’s biopic of cross-dressing director Ed Wood (1994), and romantic comedies Sweet Home Alabama (2002) and Under the Tuscan Sun (2003). Perhaps most impressively, in 1985 Lucasfilm produced the film Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, which wove together passages from gay Japanese writer Yukio Mishima’s autobiography with parts of his fictional novels, including his secret love for a peer at school. The film was never officially released in Japan following conservative protests over its portrayal of Mishima as a gay man. It was distributed in the U.S. by Warner Brothers.
In 2014, Walt Disney Studios released 13 films, of which 1 included appearances by LGBT people, amounting to 8%. This film does not pass the Vito Russo Test.
MUPPETS MOST WANTED
Widest theatrical release: 3194 theaters
In the opening number of the latest Muppet movie, bisexual pop star Lady Gaga appears as herself in a brief cameo. In case there was any mistake, she's wearing an apron with the word "Gaga" written on it, and sings one line about "one-liner cameos." That's the extent of LGBT content in a Disney film this year.