Disney officially activated its streaming platform, Disney+, in 2019 under CEO Bob Iger. Subscribers had an enormous library of movies and TV shows, both animated and live-action, that the company had produced throughout its long history. From the beginning, Disney+ was set up similar to other streaming services such as Netflix or HBO Max, but the selling point was that it was completely family-friendly.
According to Disney, parents wouldn't have to worry about their children stumbling upon an R-rated movie or a show they felt was inappropriate. That formula worked and stayed the same for over a year until the shows in Marvel's Defenders Saga were moved from Netflix to Disney+ on March 16.
The streaming service now had series such as Daredevil and The Punisher in its catalog, both of which are rated TV-MA, the television equivalent to an R-rating. However, Disney+ did add a parental control feature that locked accounts with a passcode to combat the addition of these projects. Shortly after in July, both Deadpool films and Logan, all rated R, were added to Disney+ as well, making the platform more appealing to adults.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek recently commented on the future of the Disney brand, specifically when it comes to these more adult-targeted projects, and teased that fans can expect to see an increase in that kind of content soon.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek Teases More Mature Projects
In an interview with Wall Street Journal, Disney CEO Bob Chapek was asked about how far the brand would extend itself when it comes to adding or producing content that is geared toward more mature audiences.
Chapek started by saying that he is "amazed at the elasticity" of Disney and added that he feels like parents are "probably not gonna tune in to another animated movie" when they are watching something without their children:
"I’ll withhold judgement on any one title, but what I will tell you is, everyday, even after 30 years, I am amazed at the elasticity of the Disney brand. I always say that… our fans and our audiences put their kids to bed at night after watching Pinocchio, or Dumbo, or Little Mermaid, they’re probably not gonna tune in to another animated movie. They want something for them."
The CEO then went on to say that he does "respect (the) legacy" of the Disney name, but he does also feel like they may be more careful about the brand "than the consumer base is:"
"And again, I wanna respect legacy, I want to respect what this brand is. But at the same time, I know that we may be even more precious about what’s ‘Disney’ than the consumer base is."
Chapek added that the brand ultimately wants to "listen to (their) audience," and if the audience is more comfortable with mature projects, that gives Disney "more degrees of freedom" to produce more content in that realm:
"If the consumer base has more elasticity than we’ve traditionally had in terms of finding what’s ‘Disney,’ then we probably ought to listen to our audience, which means we have more degrees of freedom than we probably thought."
Is Disney Moving Away From Family-Friendly?
When Disney first started, it created content for children. The animated movies that were produced back in the mid-1900s such as Sleeping Beauty or Pinocchio weren't supposed to contain adult themes, but that didn't mean that the older, more mature audience couldn't enjoy them too.
Fast forward to today, and it is clear that Disney has changed quite a bit. Now, Disney doesn't just create content from its own studio but also from franchises such as Star Wars and the MCU. The brand was able to still keep movies and shows inside those corners of the brand family-friendly, but some projects have begun to branch out into the more mature side in order to stay true to certain characters, like Deadpool.
The Deadpool films are definitely not made for children to view, but Marvel Studios doesn't want to change the nature of that character just to cater to a specific audience. The same goes for an upcoming animated project within the MCU titled Marvel Zombies, which has been confirmed to have a TV-MA rating. Similar to Rick and Morty, Zombies is an animated show that is not created for kids.
However, Bob Chapek isn't saying that Disney is only going to create mature content moving forward. The CEO is letting fans know that the company is listening and understands that there is a demand for that kind of content, so it wants to listen 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 present since the company's creation will still be there in a large number of the studio's projects.