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.
While the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises are already on Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige’s mind, 20th Century Fox’s other licensed Marvel properties are facing more uncertain futures now that Disney owns them all. For example, last week a report indicated that executives were grappling with how to maintain Deadpool‘s hard R rating while also including the popular character in the decidedly PG-13 Avengers films. And then there’s the X-Men spin-off The New Mutants, which has been delayed since 2018.
According to Variety, the higher-ups at Disney are “optimistic” that Feige and his repeatedly successful team will have no trouble resuscitating the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises for the MCU. The New Mutants, however, is another matter entirely. Apparently, they are “unimpressed” with what they’ve seen of the superhero-derived movie “with a haunted-house vibe.” Specifically and unsurprisingly, they “[believe] it has limited box office potential.”
So, what then for director Josh Boone’s mutant horror fiasco with Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams, and Charlie Heaton? Maybe it will wind up a streaming-only release over a Disney+, just as many suspected it would become over at Hulu before the Disney/Fox merger was approved. Then again, much like Blumhouse’s canceled The Hunt, The New Mutants may never see the light of day at all. Only time will tell.
Disney’s first quarter with 20th Century Fox was hardly a success, as major box office flops like “Dark Phoenix” lost the company $170 million. A new report from Variety, entitled “Fox Feels the Pressure From Disney As Film Flops Mount,” reveals how Disney is moving ahead on the Fox film projects it acquired after the $71.3 billion deal. The merger means Disney now owns and releases films from indie powerhouse Fox Searchlight Pictures. First out of the gate this fall from the 25-year-old indie studio is Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit.” The Nazi Germany-set comedy-drama is billed as an “anti-hate satire” and features Waititi playing an imaginary version of Adolf Hitler, hardly the content associated with Disney’s family-friendly brand.
According to Variety, the Nazi subject matter at the heart of “Jojo Rabbit” is worrying some Disney executives. Variety’s report reads: “The scathing takedown of Nazism may, however, prove a little too edgy for Disney brass accustomed to producing movies suitable for parents and kids. Searchlight has started to screen the film for its new parent company. Halfway through one recent viewing one executive grew audibly uncomfortable, worrying aloud that the material would alienate Disney fans.”
Disney and Waititi have a great relationship after the New Zealand filmmaker worked on the Marvel Cinematic Universe entry “Thor: Ragnarok,” which grossed $854 million worldwide. Waititi was clearly a beloved figure by Disney as Marvel announced at Comic-Con the director would return to helm the November 2021 sequel “Thor: Love and Thunder.” “Jojo Rabbit” was developed and produced at Fox Searchlight before the Disney merger and is now one of the titles Disney is releasing this fall.
One reason Waititi’s Nazi satire might ease Disney executives’ fears is that it’s a major awards hopeful. “Jojo Rabbit” will world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, a launching pad for Oscar films, and is one of Fox Searchlight’s potential fall awards contenders alongside “Lucy in the Sky” and “A Hidden Life.” Searchlight has a long history of dominating the Oscars, winning Best Picture for “The Shape of Water” in 2018 and scoring 10 Oscar nominations for “The Favourite” earlier this year. Acquiring Fox Searchlight has given Disney a big break into Oscar season. Should “Jojo Rabbit” deliver with Oscar voters, the subject matter might be easier for the Mouse House to swallow. More importantly, a “Jojo Rabbit” success will prove to Disney that edgy, left-of-center concepts are still profitable on the indie level.
“Jojo Rabbit” opens in theaters nationwide October 18.
Disney+ not only boasts the parent company’s already impressive catalog but new serialized programming from the likes of Lucasfilm and Marvel Studios. The thing is, despite the fact that the Mouse’s highest corporate entity oversees these and many other offshoots, this doesn’t mean that things are going to be uniform. Such is the case for Marvel Studios and Marvel Television, which are two entirely different entities. Kevin Feige manages the former, which constitutes the MCU, while Jeph Loeb runs the latter, which includes Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Netflix shows and more.
They aren’t the same thing. So, while Feige and company are spearheading new Disney+ shows like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki and WandaVision, Loeb and his group are doing their own thing. As the Marvel TV head told Deadline in a new interview, however, they will be producing their own content for the new streaming service. “Marvel Television will be doing shows with Disney+, we just haven’t announced what we’re going to do there,” he said. Asked about when those shows would be announced, he added, “When we’re ready.”
If that isn’t confusing enough, though, don’t forget that Marvel TV has many, many other non-Marvel Studios irons in the fire, like Hulu’s Runaways and Freeform’s Cloak & Dagger. There’s also the company’s upcoming slate of live-action and animated shows, which includes the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spin-off Ghostrider and titles based on Howard the Duck, M.O.D.O.K, Hit-Monkey and Tigra and Dazzler. Together, this latter batch will come together to form The Offenders.
Aladdin 2 talks are currently happening at Disney. The studio, over the past handful of years, has been having a tremendous amount of financial success remaking some of their most beloved animated classics. This year, that has proved to be especially true. Now, producer Dan Lin reveals that a sequel to this year's Aladdin remake is very much in the cards.
Aladdin is making its way to home video later this month. Dan Lin was recently being interviewed in honor of the forthcoming release and was asked about the seemingly inevitable sequel. Lin wasn't particularly cagey. While the producer wouldn't dive into specifics, he was very clear about this being a project Disney is looking into. Here's what he had to say about it.
"We have now. We certainly when we first made the movie wanted to just make the best movie we could and let audiences tell us if they wanted to see more. And I would say resoundingly audiences want to see more. They've watched this movie multiple times. We have lots of fan letters about people who really go back and they bring their friends and bring their family. And so we feel like there's more story to tell.
We are going to treat it the same way we treat the original Aladdin movie and not going to do a shot by shot remake of anything that's been done before. We're really looking at what's been done before in the past and the home video, and there's just more story to tell with the underlying materials. So without giving away too much, we are certainly exploring where we can go with this franchise."
As Dan Lin alludes to, while no sequel to the original animated Aladdin was released theatrically, the franchise expanded elsewhere. Two direct-to-video sequels, 1994's Return of Jafar and 1996's Aladdin and the King of Thieves were produced. Plus, there was the relatively short-lived animated series. It's possible that Disney could find a meaty enough story for a sequel in there somewhere.
Directed by Guy Ritchie, Aladdin went on to become an unexpectedly huge hit. The marketing campaign was pretty rocky, with many concerned over Will Smith's portrayal as Genie. However, the movie went on to earn $1.03 billion at the global box office, making it one of the biggest hits of 2019. This, despite the fact that many critics weren't buying what Disney was selling, as the remake holds just a 57 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Yet, the audience responded and, at the end of the day, that's what matters. The Lion King had a very similar fate and has grossed more than $1.3 billion so far. The real question here would be getting Will Smith back on board to reprise his role as Genie. Smith is busy as ever and that could prove tricky. It's likely Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott would return as Aladdin and Jasmine, respectively. We'll be sure to keep you posted as further details on the possible project are made available. This news comes to us via Comicbook.com.
EXCLUSIVE: “When we start thinking about our shows, it’s how do we do better than we did the last time,” declares Marvel Television's chief Jeph Loeb as the small screen arm of the comic cyclopean heads into a new hydra no pun totally intended of offerings. “We will never be a factory. We don't know how to be a factory. There is no Marvel prototype.”
Certainly, as the last year has seen the end of Daredevil, Iron Fist, Punisher, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones on Netflix, the series finale of Legion tonight and the conclusion of ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the next year or so, as Deadline exclusively reported last month, Marvel TV is looking for new worlds to conquer — or more like galaxies according to the EVP and multi-Eisner Awards winner.
With a live action Ghost Rider, an animated Howard The Duck and a more adult-intended series and genres coming to the now Disney-controlled Hulu, plus the launch of the Disney+ streaming service this fall, Marvel TV has, to paraphrase Loeb, risen like a phoenix from what some were assuming to be ashes. Then there's hushed talk of a “brand new” Marvel series on broadcast too, as we heard at the TCA last week
Coming off a Comic-Con last month that saw S.H.L.E.L.D. make its Hall H debut for a long goodbye, Loeb sat down with me to talk all things Marvel TV, clear up some misconceptions, lay down some expectations and reveal how this installment of the masterplan really works.
DEADLINE: So, S.H.I.E.L.D. is coming to an end after Season 7, several new shows are coming on Hulu, crossovers, Legion ending on FX and more. So, where is Marvel TV now and going forward?
LOEB: Well, the most exciting thing right now is finding the new corners. When we start talking about Marvel Television, we like to look at the different families.
DEADLINE: What are those clans?
LOEB: So the Marvel heroes are the ones that are most closely associated with the movies, so that would be S.H.I.E.L.D., and that would be Agent Carter. They came from the movies, our two leads were actually in the movies.
Then the next group is the Marvel Street-Level Heroes, or the Marvel Knights, as we sometimes call them here. So, if the Marvel heroes are here to save the universe, the Marvel Street-Level Heroes, the Marvel Knights, often they are just to save themselves, to save the neighborhood.
Some of those appeared on Netflix, but there are others that live in that category, which are still to come.
Then we took a look at the Marvel Universe that was upcoming and we knew that Tom Holland was going to be playing the role of Peter Parker in Spider-man, so the idea of YA, the idea of young heroes was something that got us very excited because it works really well on television.
DEADLINE: If has become one of the major streams for you in a very short time with Cloak & Dagger on Freeform and Runaways on Hulu, both now Disney controlled units ...
LOEB: … and great casts and really completely different shows in terms of tone, and yet, you can see how those kids would mix well together
DEADLINE: The much-rumored Cloak & Dagger and Runaways crossover has become official, is this going to be just a one-off even though the two outlets have shared corporate parenthood?
LOEB: This is something we’ve wanted to do since Season 1on both shows. We hope it’s the first of many. It’s one of the many benefits of having all our shows on Disney-based platforms. It is a shared universe. #itsallconnected!
DEADLINE: In that vein, ABC’s Karey Burke revealed at TCA that you guys are in active talks on a new project for them that will be a female focus character. What can you tell us about that project and is it intended to air while S.H.I.E.L.D is still on ABC or afterwards?
LOEB: That’s classified. Sorry!
DEADLINE: What's open information is that Legion wraps up its three-season run on FX tonight. The Noah Hawley helmed series was a very different type of show for Marvel in some people’s mind and very much indicative of your scope at the same time. I know you’ve talked about this a bit before, but looking back over the three seasons of Legion , what is your perspective on the series, Noah and maybe even more Legion down the line?
LOEB: It’s a remarkable show created and visualized by an extraordinary filmmaker. Noah carried this from the start - told us how he wanted the show to begin and how he wanted it to end - and we’ve respected that. Having FX as our partner made it very exciting as well from both a creative and marketing stand point.
As to the future, that world and those characters will always be there. It’s our hope that Noah will want to return to them is any capacity he thinks is worth telling. FX remains a huge priority for us because we can tell those unexpected stories there and John Landgraf is something of a visionary himself. They “get” us and we “get” them. We like all of that.
DEADLINE: On the flip-side, under the same corporate umbrella, there’s going to be all these Disney+ shows, Scarlet Witch and Vision, Winter Soldier and Falcon, there’s a number of them, do you feel that there is a potential of too much Marvel?
LOEB: Well, first of all, I have to make something very clear, which is those are shows that are created and run and the responsibility of the motion picture studio. Secondly, Marvel Television will be doing shows with Disney+, we just haven't announced what we're going to do there.
DEADLINE: And when do you think we're going to hear what Marvel TV's Disney+ offerings are?
LOEB: When we're ready.
DEADLINE: OK, but let's shift a bit to the Fox assets and some of the Marvel properties that they had licenses to – does that raise new opportunities in terms of what you guys are looking at what you want to go forward with?
LOEB: Too soon to tell.
DEADLINE: C'mon, really?
LOEB: Honestly, it’s just too soon
DEADLINE: What you do know now that you like with a new affection is animation, which of course was Marvel TV's primary pillar before S.H.I.E.L.D. debuted in the fall of 2013. What turned the spotlight back on the 'toons, so to speak for you?
LOEB: I’m a huge Archer fan, and Dan Buckley, who's the president of all things other than the studio here at Marvel, and I started talking about how we have this mutual love of animation and also pushing that wall. The idea of doing something that was more adult, some of which was started with the idea of doing Deadpool animated. What we really liked was the notion of putting together a group of titles that could then be a group, as we had done with Defenders.
DEADLINE: How did you construct your band of misfits?
LOEB: We just started looking through things that made us laugh, and you know Patton Oswalt playing M.O.D.O.K., Will and Josh, who had this take on Hit-Monkey, the idea of a monkey assassin just made us smile. When Chelsea Handler and Erica Rivinoja came in, and we started talking about how do we do what we sort of refer to as Laverne and Shirley in the Marvel Universe...
DEADLINE: It’s a very good way of putting it, by the way …
LOEB: When you put Tigra and Dazzler together and you know that Chelsea's going to voice Tigra, you just know that's going to be just fun, and then it was just inevitable that we were going to do Howard the Duck, and we just knew that the kind o f Howard the Duck we wanted to do was not going to be a live action guy in a suit or a CG creature, or whatever, we just wanted to do it as a straight ahead, smart, funny, political...
DEADLINE: Is he going to run for president like in the comics?
LOEB: LAUGHS We'll see what happens.
DEADLINE: Still the best issue of that whole series ...
LOEB: One of them for sure, it is absolutely wonderful. But when you have voices like Kevin Smith and Dave Willis, you just know how smart that show's going to be.
Then we're going to put them all together in this thing called the Offenders, which makes me smile. You know in the original pitch it was, the team that nobody asked for. It was just such the perfect marriage of tone and network with Hulu
DEADLINE: You like that relationship, clearly...
LOEB: Oh Yes! And I have to give real credit to the people at Hulu for that.
DEADLINE: That's just good corporate politics ...
LOEB: Yes, but a lot of times the reason why Marvel lands on a platform is because of the people. When they get it, when they want us. I’ve been on the other side of that, I’ve been the writer producer, who's tried to work with the network, and there’s a whole agenda that's going on that you don't know anything about, you’re just making your show. We try to tell people that when a network invites Marvel in, they’re getting Marvel.
DEADLINE: What does that mean to you?
LOEB: That they’re getting this brand that's known throughout the world. It’s just a different kind of strategizing, which is what's the best way that we can tell the world that Marvel adult animation is on Hulu, for example.
We were talking to them, and they started scratching because when you look at the success that they've had with Castle Rock and the world of terror. Something that really interested us and interested them, and we always knew that we were going to do something with Ghost Rider, we were just waiting for the right place to put it.
Then we started having the same conversation, which was there is in the comic book world the Spirit of Vengeance, and they are this sort of unusual group of characters, which involve Ghost Rider, which involve Helstrom, which involve Helstrom's sister, Anna. We suddenly saw that there were three or four shows that we could put together that we now refer to as Adventure into Fear.
DEADLINE: Is that Marvel Horror under another name?
LOEB: No, it's terror, because when you say horror, it means so many different things. There’s everything from Saw, which is the last thing that we want to do, gore-fest kind of thing to there’s a monster running around. What we love is the notion of how we can present a Marvel hero who was truly feared and truly believed that they were a monster, but that, as the stories go on, they realize, oh, I’m the hero of the story, I’m not the villain of the story. That's not something we've ever done before. So we started with Ghost Rider, we went out and managed to get Gabriel Luna to come back and reproduce the role he played on S.H.I.E.L.D. Then we're going to do Helstrom, and then there’s a couple more that we haven't yet revealed to the world.
DEADLINE: It's a new twist after the Netflix situation, which started on such a high and end almost as a case of death by a thousand streaming cuts, didn't it?
LOEB: The hardest part was while the situation at Netflix of which I really can't go into other than to say that we were blindsided and the things that were to come weren't finished yet. We weren't ready to announce that, so there was this space in between it, so it did look like maybe we were going to go out Then suddenly, we were arising again like the Phoenix.
DEADLINE: Which is a good narrative in hindsight, no?
LOEB: Yes but not while you're in it. The truth of the matter is, we were on this thing where we said, oh wait, the bumper fell off the car, but the car's still going, but we couldn’t discuss any of that. So, in the end, however history's going to remember the story, all that's important to us is that we had an opportunity to change television by putting together four heroes, who then joined together in a group, and people have talked about it like this is unprecedented.
Now, we're going to do it again with the animated series, and then we're going to do it again with the fear-based series. It’s now become, for us, our model. We would rather try to find ways of putting together a group of characters so that when a platform meets with us to talk about what we want to do, we're trying to create a family on that platform.
DEADLINE: On the topic of platforms, there were rumors for at least a year of a Ghost Rider series on ABC?
LOEB: LAUGHS I know, you bugged us about it. But no, we never intended for it to be on ABC because we wanted to do a show that was more mature. Look, it has the weight in the best way that there had been a Daredevil movie, so that when there was a Daredevil television show, people knew the name. There was a lot of weight that came with the Daredevil movie that we had to shake off and prove ourselves that we could make a television show that became what it was. The good news is people love Gabe, people love the way that character works, the feature film levels special effects — and the part that's really exciting is we'll push it further. It will have a little fun that folks will really dig.
DEADLINE: So, what is it that you dig?
LOEB: When we start thinking about our shows, it’s how do we do better than we did the last time. That's partially why I could not be prouder of the people who work here because they all have that same ethic. We will never be a factory. We don't know how to be a factory. There is no Marvel prototype.
LOEB: No. Trust me, we don't know how to do that and tell the stories that we're telling.
That's why going back to the beginning, that's why we can do a Legion, a Daredevil, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a Ghost Rider. I don't know any kind of corporation that makes a product that could do that kind of thing unless it’s at its core a storytelling machine. We have all different kinds of voices and genders and people who want to tell stories through the Marvel library, and when that happens, you get Marvel.
We believe that anyone can be a hero and that that enables you to tell stories about every single person on this planet, that's our real secret.