Disney officially activated its streaming platform, Disney +, in 2019 under the leadership of CEO Bob Iger. Subscribers had a huge library of movies and TV shows, both animated and live-action, that the company had produced throughout its long history. From the start, Disney + was created in a similar way to other streaming services like Netflix or HBO Max, but the main selling point was that it was completely family friendly.
According to Disney, parents shouldn’t worry about their children stumbling upon a R-rated movie or show they thought was inappropriate. That formula worked and stayed the same for over a year until Marvel’s Defenders Saga shows were moved from Netflix to Disney + on March 16.
The streaming service now had series like Reckless And The Punisher in its catalog, both are rated TV-MA, television equivalent to an R rating. However, Disney + added a parental control feature that blocked accounts with a passcode to combat adding these projects. Shortly after in July, both Dead Pool film and Loganall rated R, they have also been added to Disney +, making the platform more attractive to adults.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek recently commented on the future of the Disney brand, particularly when it comes to these more adult-oriented projects, and joked that fans can expect to see an increase in that type of content soon.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek teases more mature projects
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Disney CEO Bob Chapek was asked how far the brand would extend when it comes to adding or producing content aimed at a more mature audience.
Chapek began by saying that it is “amazed by the elasticity” of Disney and added that she feels like her parents are “I probably won’t tune in to another animated film” when they are watching something without their children:
“I will treat the judgment on any title, but what I will tell you is that, every day, even after 30 years, I am amazed by the resilience of the Disney brand. I always say that … our fans and our audience bring their children in bed the night after seeing Pinocchio, or Dumbo, or the Little Mermaid, they probably won’t tune in to another animated movie. They want something for them. “
The CEO then went on to say he does “respect (the) inheritance” of the Disney name, but he also feels they might be more branding “than the consumer base is:”
“And again, I want to respect the legacy, I want to respect what this brand is. But at the same time, I know we could be even more valuable about what ‘Disney’ is than the consumer base.”
Chapek added that the brand ultimately wants it “listen to (their) audience”, and if the public is more comfortable with mature projects, that gives it to Disney “more degrees of freedom” to produce more content in that realm:
“If the consumer base has more elasticity than we traditionally have in terms of finding what ‘Disney’ is, then we should probably listen to our audience, which means we have more degrees of freedom than we probably thought.”
Is Disney moving away from the family?
When Disney started, they created content for children. Animated films produced in the mid-1900s such as Sleeping Beauty or Pinocchio they weren’t supposed to contain adult themes, but that didn’t mean even older, more mature audiences couldn’t enjoy them.
Fast forward to today, and it’s clear that Disney has changed quite a lot. Now, Disney not only creates content from their own studio, but also from franchises like Star Wars and the MCU. The brand has been able to still keep movies and shows within those family-friendly corners of the brand, but some projects have begun to expand to the more mature side to stay loyal to certain characters, like Deadpool.
The Dead Pool movies are definitely not meant to be seen by kids, but Marvel Studios doesn’t want to change that character’s nature just to cater to a specific audience. The same goes for an upcoming animated project within the titled MCU Marvel Zombies, to which the TV-MA rating has been confirmed. Similar to Rick and Morty, Zombies is an animated show that was not created for children.
However, Bob Chapek isn’t saying Disney will only create adult content moving forward. The CEO is letting fans know that the company is listening and he understands that there is a demand for that type of content, so he wants to hear it and make it an option. There will still be classic Disney stories made in both live-action and animation, and the childlike Disney magic that has been around since the company’s creation will still be featured in a large number of the studio’s projects.