Last week’s reports that Disney would stop 20th Century Fox’s film development and focus more on key franchises like Avatar didn’t come as a huge surprise. The studio was bound to cut back on some of the smaller lesser-known properties. And the news comes in the wake of Fox Studios films operating at a loss of $170 million for the quarter.
And now we are getting a new idea of how Disney might determine which films will be a part of the release slate, and which ones might fall by the wayside. We’re also learning that Disney is worried about edgier upcoming titles like Taika Waititi‘s Jojo Rabbit. More on all of this below.
According to Variety, Disney CEO Bob Iger addressed his frustrations at the lower than expected earnings on the company’s Aug. 6 quarterly earnings call. The report says that Iger, as well as Alan Horn and co-chairman Alan Bergman, are disappointed by poor box office performances recently and concerned about various projects that are currently in development and if they can perform well enough to continue developing.
Films like X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Stuber, and The Art of Racing in the Rain were all commercial flops. It is a shocking contrast when compared to some of the other films that Disney released this year which include Avengers: Endgame, Aladdin, The Lion King, and Toy Story, all four of which helped the studio to earn an approximate cumulative $5 billion.
Fox’s under-performing films isn’t good news for Emma Watts, who is responsible for running production for 20th Century Fox for the next two years. This leaves Horn and Bergman tasked with rebranding 20th Century Fox with the “same discipline and creative standards” which they believe have resulted in the success of Disney and its other properties such as Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm.
Given that some of Fox’s previous major releases were flops, it is easy to understand why Disney might have some concerns over Fox’s other upcoming projects like Jojo Rabbit, which is produced by Fox Searchlight, 20th Century Fox’s indie branch. Although the concern may not be really over success as it is Disney’s studio image. Directed by Thor: Ragnarok helmer Taika Waititi, the film is a historical satire that takes down the image of Adolf Hitler, who is portrayed by Waititi as a bumbling fool in the film.
In the same report Variety says that the “scathing takedown of Nazism” in Jojo Rabbit could be “too edgy” for Disney, which releases more family friendly titles, and that one unnamed executive who was watching the film was “audibly uncomfortable” and stated out loud that they were worried it would “alienate” Disney fans.
It’s a little hard to see how a film like Jojo Rabbit that is described as a “scathing takedown of Nazism” would alienate Disney fans. Many have been waiting for the studio to do something edgy like this, especially since Disney has produced other more mature films under different banners like Touchstone, including plenty of R-rated titles such as The Color of Money, Cocktail, Con Air, Face/Off, Starship Troopers, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, High Fidelity, 25th Hour, Apocalypto, and 2011’s Fright Night remake.
However, Jojo Rabbit will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, which might help ease some of those fears. But we will just have to wait and see.
Jojo Rabbit is currently scheduled to open in theaters on October 18, 2019. You can watch a trailer for the film right here if you missed it.