Disney Chairman Wants To Make R-Rated Movies After Fox Merger

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With the Disney/Fox merger on the horizon, many fans have expressed concern that the deal might force R-rated properties like Deadpool and Alien to soften their image. But while it seems inevitable that the transition will bring some changes to these franchises, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the merger will also serve as an opportunity for Disney to diversify its output and branch out into less family-friendly territory.

Once the deal comes into effect, The Hollywood Reporter observes that 20th Century Fox film chairman Emma Watts, Fox Searchlight co-heads Steve Gilula and Nancy Utley, and Fox 2000 chief Elizabeth Gabler will all report to Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn. When the publication asked Horn if he feels the acquisition will make Disney more open to producing R-rated content, the industry executive seemed confident that this was the case, saying:

“With Fox, we can make movies that right now I say no to. Take Bohemian Rhapsody, which is PG-13. It’s a hit movie and very, very good. But there’s no way we could make it under the Disney label because the characters smoke cigarettes and other content. Nor could we have made [Warner Bros.’ R-rated] Oscar-winning Argo because the characters smoke and use the F-word. We always have to think about the smoking policy. The audience for a Disney movie may not know what they are going to see, but they know what they aren’t going to see. There are certain things we just can’t include because we’ll get letters.”

From the sound of things, the conglomerate’s newly acquired properties may be allowed to operate more or less independently from the traditional Disney ethos. In fact, CEO Bob Iger seemed to confirm as such just a couple of weeks ago when he mentioned at the quarterly earnings call that there’s “room for the Fox properties to exist without significant Disney influence over the nature of the content.”

While there’s presumably only so much that Disney can say before the merger comes into effect, it certainly looks like Deadpool will continue as an R-rated series, properties like Alien and Predator will keep producing content, and recent reports of an R-rated Black Widow movie might actually have it right. Either way, keep watching this space for further announcements.

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