Sometime far in the future, or maybe as soon as five years from now, parents will regale their children with tales of the ancient times, when the average father was happy to order a Bud Light at the bar and parents lined up at the movie theater for each new Disney movie no matter what.

I’m old enough (and young enough) to remember getting excited about every Pixar release, knowing that the next film would be a guaranteed classic (and in the era from Toy Story to Up, I was right). Disney bought Pixar in 2006. Since then, nearly half of Pixar’s offerings have been sequels or spin-offs.

Now, Disney is losing millions on streaming, and the company’s box-office showings over Thanksgiving were miserable. The Marvels opened “with the lowest box-office numbers of any of the 33 movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe,” Fortune reports , adding that the abysmal opening “mark[s] the end of an era of unquestioned dominance” for the Disney-owned Marvel.

And Wish, which some parents feared would be as “woke” as other recent animated films, “earned a disappointing $3.9 million” on Thursday, according to Variety, “with the Disney movie looking like another box-office dud for a studio that had previously enjoyed an unprecedented record of success.”

Disney has an imagination problem, with sequels, prequels, other derivative content, and bland, “be yourself” narratives now dominating its products. Perhaps more importantly, it also has an image problem, thanks to its recent forays into politics (criticizing the Florida law that keeps second graders from being exposed to gender ideology, for example).

But as George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley pointed out over the weekend, Disney is being forced to reconsider its direction — because the free market is working as it should.

At an event with employees in September, Disney CEO Bob Iger promised to “quiet” the company’s activism and instead “listen to [its] audience.”

Similarly, Disney notes in its annual SEC report, “We face risks relating to misalignment with public and consumer tastes and preferences for entertainment, travel, and consumer products.”

You don’t say.

“Generally, our revenues and profitability are adversely impacted when our entertainment offerings and products, as well as our methods to make our offerings and products available to consumers, do not achieve sufficient consumer acceptance,” the report says. “Further, consumers’ perceptions of our position on matters of public interest, including our efforts to achieve certain of our environmental and social goals, often differ widely and present risks to our reputation and brands.”

In short, We lose money when people hate our products and the ideas we advocate.

Just over 50% of the public views Disney favorably, according to a recent Rasmussen Reports poll, while 40% have an unfavorable opinion of the company, a result that once would have been surprising for a company that used to be as American as apple pie.

Disney’s favorability among the public has declined compared to its standing a decade ago, according to Axios. While its opposition to the deceptively nicknamed “Don’t Say Gay” law made Disney more popular with Democrats, its popularity tanked with Republicans. The company took “such a large reputation hit with Republicans that its overall reputation score was severely impacted,” Axios notes.

Disney has found that its turn toward social justice has made it popular with climate doomsayers who read the New Yorker and are busy boycotting corporations that do business in Israel, but not so much with the beleaguered parents who want a guaranteed win with their children on a Saturday morning.

In this economy, when a movie ticket is upward of $10 per child, middling storylines and left-wing virtue signaling aren’t going to cut it. Parents have known this for a long time, and people with a vested interest in the quality of children’s movies have chosen not, in the words of Pixar’s Mr. Incredible, to “celebrate mediocrity.”

Fortunately, now that they’ve been talking with their wallets, Disney seems to be listening.