Just about one week ago, Disney added three new movies to its Disney+ streaming service. Those movies were Logan, starring Hugh Jackman, Marvel’s Deadpool, and Deadpool 2, starring Ryan Reynolds. The movies marked the first time that R-rated movies could be found on the platform. The move was a controversial one, as parents thought it flew in the face of the “family-friendly” image that The Walt Disney Company has had for decades. However, according to several experts, Disney desperately needed to start embracing more adult content.
“Ultimately to compete in this business, they need to bring their entire portfolio to bear…they can’t bring that to bear with just G and PG content,” Paul Erickson, senior analyst with Parks Associates, told TheWrap. “If they’re optimizing their business, it would be folly for them to ignore all that available market for their content.”
He said the key is for Disney to be sensitive “that their customer base is comprised of a lot of different enclaves of people…this is perhaps some short term friction here as they transition and truly move to leveraging their content library to the max.”
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Comscore, agreed that Disney+ can’t restrict itself to just family entertainment if it wants to compete.
“If you’re known as a platform that only offers family entertainment, you’re going to be put in a niche and silo, and that in theory will limit your potential in grabbing people and keeping them.”
Although the move to allow R-rated content makes sense in terms of keeping up with its competitors, the move by Disney angered some parents. The Parents Television and Media Council (PTC) released a statement after Deadpool and Logan were officially added, expressing their disappointment.
“Three years ago, the Walt Disney Company made a promise to families: No R-rated movies on Disney+, they said. It’s a family-focused platform, they said. We have Hulu for our edgier adult fare, they said. It turns out they were lying to us. After decades of corporate brilliance establishing itself as the world’s most trusted brand for families, today’s C-level suite at Disney has decided to flush it all down the toilet,” said PTC President Tim Winter.
“While Disney+ points subscribers to its parental controls, the mere presence of R-rated and TV-MA rated content violates the trust and sensibilities of families. What took decades to build is now taking mere months to erase.
“One day in the no-too-distant future, business schools will point back to this abrupt corporate U-turn as they analyze what happened to the once-great Walt Disney Company. And in the meantime, families will continue to be woefully underserved by Hollywood.”
Even though opinions were divided on having R-rated titles on Disney+, Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds made light of the situation. The actor took to social media to share that other Disney movies should be rated R for the emotional trauma that they inflict on watchers. Those movies included hits like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi, and The Lion King.