Hey all, Matthew here reporting live from my bunker. While the global economy takes a bath amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, I just took a bath in Lysol. Took me three days of spraying to fill the tub but it was worth it. I also itch all over for some presumably unrelated reason.
So, what to do while trapped in your home? It’s a good thing we live in a world where literal thousands of hours of entertainment are at our fingertips, just waiting to be watched and played. And, in a rare moment of altruism (with the expected sprinkling of capitalism to boot), Disney has released Frozen II to their streaming service a few months earlier than planned. That’s all well and good and, truth be told, my family gathered around the TV to watch that very movie just two nights ago.
In hazmat suits, just in case. But the thing is Frozen II was always coming to Disney+. It was just a matter of when. There are still a ton of films and TV shows that the House of Mouse has the rights to which we’re still waiting on; movies that should have already been released.
Malcolm in the Middle
What it is: Not a movie, but this is the biggest TV show that’s not on the service. Malcolm in the Middle is the definition of a “cult classic.” It had strong ratings for a brief moment of time before the show fizzled and died, leaving behind a legacy of nostalgia that is still felt today. Memes and clips continue to circulate the bowels of the interwebs.
What’s holding it back? Probably the fact that it’s very much a “Fox” product. It has that same irreverent, gritty, slightly surreal brand of humor that was the identity of the network throughout the 90’s. It’s probably a bit too raw for what Disney is looking for on their service, making Hulu a better place for it. Still, if you can look past those shortcomings (if they can even be called such), the show has a tremendous heart, incredible situation-comedy storytelling, and tons of replay (bingeable) potential.
What it is: It’s one of the most gripping, intense, clever, well-acted science-fiction (heavy on the science, less so on the fiction) movies of the past decade. It’s a multiple-award winning blockbuster with endless rewatchability. It’s a film with a popular name director (Ridley Scott) and lead actor (Matt Damon), with a premise whose appeal stretches across multiple demographics, which probably accounts for its huge box office haul. It’s the kind of movie that, if you have the rights to it, you wouldn’t question to showcase it on your streaming service. And yet, Disney’s done nada with it.
What’s holding it back? Well, it begins and ends with three little words: “Fuck you Mars.” To be fair, this is, somehow, a PG-Rated movie, though I can’t fathom how it managed to snag that rating with that line. In fact, the biggest no-no word of them all appears no less than five times in the film, either in spoken, mimed, or printed form. The MPAA is weird. Disney isn’t going to want to deal with the hysteria from a certain segment if they put a movie (PG or not) on their service that drops multiple F-bombs, even if the context of the word is never used in a sexual way.
Wes Anderson’s Catalog
What it is: Not all of Wes Anderson’s movies belong to Disney. Bottle Rocket belongs to Sony and Moonrise Kingdom was released by Focus, but that’s it. The rest were either handled by Disney (through their Buena Vista/Touchstone brand) or Fox (through their Fox Searchlight brand). In addition, a good number of Anderson’s idiosyncratic movies are rated-R (Rushmore, The Royal Tannenbaums, The Life Aquatic, The Darjeeling Ltd. and The Grant Budapest Hotel) so that explains their absence. Nevertheless, there are two movies rated PG that not only could be featured, but would be right at home: The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Isle of Dogs. Both are stop-motion animated movies with the former based on the Roald Dahl classic book. Wes’ highly stylized way of presenting a story is the perfect medium for a children’s movie and both films would be excellent additions to Disney+ (even though Isle of Dogs probably shouldn’t be considered a children’s movie).
What’s holding it back? Three little words: “What the cuss?”
Probably the biggest hindrance is the perception that Anderson’s movies are too mature or oddball for the mass-market platform Disney wants “the +” to be.
Early M. Night Films
What it is: The first four movies of M. Night Shyamalan’s career thoroughly represent his entire career. There are blockbuster thrills with shocking and clever twist-endings (The Sixth Sense), quirky but well-made projects with interesting twist-endings (Unbreakable), parable films with twist-endings that make less sense the more you think about them (Signs), and arrogantly-made slogs with horrible twist-endings (The Village). Basically every movie the man has made will fit into one of those four categories.
What’s holding it back? Probably the same thing keeping Wes Anderson’s movies away: There’s a certain adultness to them, even though many of their premises are ridiculous, that Disney isn’t going to be comfortable pushing you to “watch next” after a viewing of Pirates of the Caribbean. That’s a shame, though, because there’s definitely a market for those sorts of movies.
I understand not hosting any R-Rated content, but it’s the PG-13 (or, in the case of The Martian, hard-PG) movies that sort of straddle the line between “for everyone” and “for grown-ups” that the company is avoiding. They’re missing out on reaching a whole segment of the subscriber-audience that might be looking for a dose of childish nostalgia one minute, and slightly edgier content the next.
What do you think? Should Disney relax a bit and host some edgier films and shows, like the ones mentioned above, or should they continue splitting their library between Disney+ and Hulu? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
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