SALT LAKE CITY — A new report indicates Taika Waititi’s (“Thor: Ragnarok”) newest movie might be an uncomfortable sell for Disney and its fans.
In a deep dive into the current status of Disney after absorbing 20th Century Fox earlier this year, Variety reports Disney executives are allegedly uncomfortable with Waititi’s upcoming World War II-set satire, “Jojo Rabbit.” The movie, which was originally greenlit by Fox Searchlight, is set to arrive in theaters Oct. 18.
According to Collider, the movie is a dark comedy about a German boy named Jojo (Roman Grifith Davis) whose imaginary friend is an “idiotic” caricature of Adolf Hitler, who’s played by Waititi. After discovering his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young girl in their attic, the young boy’s worldview and naive patriotism is “turned upside down.”
During Searchlight’s screenings for their new parent company, one Disney executive reportedly voiced his concerns that the adult-oriented satire would “alienate” Disney fans, who are usually kids and families, Variety notes.
“Halfway through one recent viewing one executive grew audibly uncomfortable, worrying aloud that the material would alienate Disney fans,” Variety writes. ”His unease may have been over the film’s cutting-edge satire, but it was also an expression of the culture clash taking place as the two studios embark on their new union.”
Metro notes Waititi’s role as Hitler — which he didn’t do any research for — isn’t meant to be an “authentic” portrayal of the Nazi leader, but instead an amalgamation of Jojo’s patriotism and heroes. Uproxx also reports the director intends for the movie to be an anti-war political statement that ridicules Nazis and racism.
“I’m stoked to begin shooting my anti-war satire,” the director said in a statement. “We’ve assembled an incredible cast and I couldn’t be more excited to finally ridicule Nazis and their beliefs.”
“Jojo Rabbit” follows several high-profile incidents worldwide involving white supremacists, including a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, two years ago. NPR reports a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi who killed a woman when he rammed his car into a group of counterprotesters was given two life sentences in prison last month.
Waititi’s next project for Disney is the decidedly less controversial “Thor: Love and Thunder,” in 2021, which Deseret News reports will feature Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster becoming the mighty Thor.