What is the Rachel Zegler Effect? Snow White trend explained

Daisy Phillipson
Still from Disney's original Snow White and image of Rachel Zegler

Amid the ongoing Snow White controversy, a new term has been doing the rounds online: the “Rachel Zegler Effect.” Here’s what it means in the context of the backlash towards the Disney live-action remake. 

Unless you’ve been off-grid over the past month, you will have seen a few headlines about the Rachel Zegler drama of late. But to refresh your memory, the West Side Story star is set to take on the role of the titular princess in Disney’s upcoming live-action remake of Snow White.

Now, the House of Mouse’s live-action movies haven’t had the best press in recent years, but the “fairest of them all” has arguably received the loudest backlash due to Zegler bashing the original movie. In an unearthed interview from 2022, she called the 1937 animation “weird, weird,” described the prince as a “stalker,” and slammed the narrative’s focus on the quest for “true love.” 

Since the clip did the rounds online in August, staunch Disney fans have reacted angrily, unearthing old videos of Zegler, comparing her to former Disney princesses, accusing her of getting Gina Carano fired, and promising to boycott her films. And now the phrase the Rachel Zegler Effect has emerged – here’s what it means. 

What is the Rachel Zegler Effect? Snow White trend explained

The Rachel Zegler Effect refers to Disney’s plummeting stock prices and its $512 million streaming losses in the most recent quarter, with those using the term to theorize that the reason for this is that it chooses stars like Zegler to lead projects. 

The closing price for Walt Disney in 2019 was $144.63 per share, but as of September 12, 2023, it is at $82.52. According to YouTuber Yellow Flash – who makes commentary videos about anime, comics, video games, and other properties – the reason for this is what he calls the Rachel Zegler Effect.

In a recent video titled ‘The Rachel Zegler Effect! Years of girl bosses and churn have destroyed Disney’s stock’, he argues, “I think people are just turned off to Disney, and I think it’s this putting their image and their brand behind people like Rachel Zegler,” before describing the Snow White star as a “bully.”

Prior to this, Yellow Flash highlighted a number of failures of the House of Mouse of late, stating: “Star Wars is not performing for them as well as they’d like… and then you have their movies, where they’ve lost probably a billion dollars at the box office now.”

Though this figure isn’t correct in terms of box office losses, Disney did spend $1 billion on titles that have flopped in 2023, including Ant-Man 3, the live-action The Little Mermaid, Indiana Jones 5, and Secret Invasion.

Last month, Reuters reported that shares of the media conglomerate fell 3.9%, its lowest level in nearly nine years, with investors turning bearish as they bet “that a further price drop is on the cards in the next few months.” CEO Bob Iger has put together an action plan to appease investors, including “price hikes across its streaming platforms, more ads, and cost cuts.”

But is the so-called Rachel Zegler Effect really why Disney is losing cash? While certain media outlets claim its recent box office flops are down to “the liberal agenda being pushed in movies,” there are a number of significant factors to consider, including high production costs, over-hyped titles, superhero fatigue, and the shift to streaming.  

Harrison Ford and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Indiana Jones 5
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny flopped at the box office

That being said, whether you agree with it or not, the backlash to certain projects and Zegler in particular has been impossible to ignore. Yellow Flash went on to say: “There’ll be another Rachel Zegler. They’re going to mine the sh*t out of all their old stuff and modernize it.”

“This isn’t going to slow down for them. They’re just seeing Little Mermaid and – if Snow White bombs – they just see these as bumps in the road that they can recover from,” he adds, before arguing that the House of Mouse will continue to book “unlikeable girlbosses” and “piss off a large contingent” of the fanbase. 

This isn’t the only context the term Rachel Zegler Effect has been used online, with one X/Twitter referring to the news that many Hunger Games fans are talking about boycotting the upcoming prequel The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, which has Zegler in a leading role. 

“The #Zegler Effect. People boycotting her movies is gold,” they wrote, sharing an Instagram post by IMDb of the latest posters for the movie, which has been inundated with criticism about Zegler in the comments section. 

IMDb's Instagram post showing posters for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

“Everyone don’t forget she is going to get paid for every second that she wore a dress in Hunger Games,” said one, referring to comments the star made during the actors’ strike. Another wrote: “Sorry but I’m boycotting Zegler until someone finds her a brain.” While a third added: “Can’t wait for Zegler to ruin another franchise.”

You can read more about the Rachel Zegler Snow White controversy below:

About The Author

Daisy is a Senior TV and Movies Writer at Dexerto. She's a lover of all things macabre, whether that be horror, crime, psychological thrillers or all of the above. After graduating with a Masters in Magazine Journalism, she's gone on to write for Digital Spy, LADbible and Little White Lies. You can contact her on daisy.phillipson@dexerto.com