Thanks to the massive success of Thor: Ragnarok, Taika Waititi has become a beloved entity at Marvel, which recently signed the filmmaker to direct the follow-up, Thor: Love And Thunder. Waititi’s next film, however, has reportedly become something of an emblem for parent company Disney’s rocky acquisition of Fox. Variety took a closer look at the current state of the Disney-Fox merger following last week’s investor call with Bob Iger, who deemed Fox’s third-quarter performance “well below where we hoped it would be when we made the acquisition.” In response, Disney has halted production on numerous original projects in development at Fox, effectively wiping the slate clean—keeping only those titles with mass appeal, like the Avatar sequels. A handful of titles survived the merger, including a few upcoming films (and potential awards contenders) from Fox Searchlight, like Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit, which the filmmaker describes as an “anti-hate satire” set during World War II.
According to Variety, studio executives aren’t exactly confident in Waititi’s new comedy, despite the filmmaker’s proven track record. The film follows an awkward but blindly patriotic little German boy whose only refuge from being bullied by his peers is an imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (played by Waititi)—that is, until he meets a little girl who challenges his point of view. Apparently some Disney execs are concerned that Jojo Rabbit might be too edgy for the studio’s usual demographic of children and families, which... yeah, it’s not exactly a movie you take your eight-year-old Cars stan to see on a Saturday morning, unless you’re really trying to course-correct their interests (and maybe you should). Things take a hilariously disturbing turn in the last paragraph of Variety’s feature, which describes a Disney exec’s reaction following a recent internal screening of Jojo Rabbit: “Halfway through one recent viewing one executive grew audibly uncomfortable, worrying aloud that the material would alienate Disney fans.”
Please take a moment to re-read that last line very carefully. A person in a position of authority at Disney is concerned that Jojo Rabbit, a movie that takes a timely skewer to Nazis, will “alienate Disney fans.” Are we talking about all Disney fans, or just the alt-right Disney fans—you know, the ones throwing tantrums because the new Ariel is black? Of course, should Jojo Rabbit become a hit and—more importantly—rack up a few awards nominations along the way, none of this will matter.