Art and popularity are at odds with each other.
Popularity rises when something is familiar. Disney movies are popular because they rehash familiar themes. Damsels in distress, a commoner winning a princess’ heart, a hero fighting monsters, monsters turning into heroes and interpretations of fairy tales. Sure, Disney is exceptional. However, it stands for exceptional celebration of the status-quo.
Art is not meant to celebrate the status-quo. It is meant to question the status-quo, tear it down and build something new. Once that new movement is the norm, art moves on to tear down something else. Art is the process of creative destruction. Artistic movements aren’t popular because they make most people feel uncomfortable. Once a movement is popular, it gradually stops becoming art.
Disney movies have never questioned traditional views on race, gender roles or sexual identity until recently, when those questions have turned mainstream. Artists have always raised those uncomforatable questions.
Accomplished artists have a hard time choosing between their art and mainstream popularity because that which is popular is usually not art, and thatwhich is art is usually not popular.