Disney is apparently concerned over the upcoming release of Jojo Rabbit, the latest from Thor: Love and Thunder director Taika Waititi. This is one of the projects Disney inherited from Fox in the $71.3 billion merger that went into effect back in March. While things haven’t gone according to plan so far, this project was viewed as one of the bright spots on Fox’s slate. However, the Mouse House is said to be having second thoughts, as certain executives within the studio’s ranks allegedly feel the movie may be too edgy for their typical audience.
Jojo Rabbit has been gaining a good deal of attention ever since the project was announced. And with good reason. Not just because it’s the first movie Taika Waititi is making since his blockbuster breakout Thor: Ragnarok, but because of the content of his latest. The movie has been billed as an “anti-hate satire,” which sees Waititi playing an imaginary version of Adolf Hitler, who is a lonely German boy’s friend during World War II. Needless to say, that doesn’t fit the typical Disney brand. Not by a long shot.
According to a new report, a recent screening held for executives didn’t go over too well. One unnamed executive is said to have grown “audibly uncomfortable, worrying aloud that the material would alienate Disney fans.” Even though this movie is produced by Fox Searchlight, a division that has an incredible track record with indie movies that has racked up a ton of awards over the years, it’s now housed under the larger Disney umbrella. Disney has a brand to maintain. A very successful brand at that, and it’s understandable that certain executives may be nervous about expanding that strategy to include titles like Jojo Rabbit.
The issues here are numerous and wide-ranging in scope. Fox Searchlight is one of the last true indie movie studios in Hollywood. If Disney starts getting cold feet when it comes to projects like this, creators like Taika Waititi, whom Disney wants to work with on major blockbusters, are likely going to be very unhappy. Not to mention, from an artistic output standpoint, moviegoers would be losing out on untold possible cinematic treasures that might not fit the typical Disney brand. In short, it’s complicated.
Disney recently took their foot off the gas of a majority of Fox’s production slate that was in the works prior to the merger. Disney has seen Fox releases bomb one after another since taking over the studio and they’re certainly not going to allow that to continue. In the case of Jojo Rabbit, they have a possible high-profile indie hit that is viewed as a major awards season contender. Regardless of branding, if the movie does go on to find success, it could go a long way in calming Disney’s worries in the future. Jojo Rabbit is set to arrive in theaters on October 18. This news comes to us via Variety.