What To Expect From Disney+ And The Fox Merger, According To Disney Film Chief Alan Horn

The Disney brand has become more than just Disney now. In addition to its gigantic studios Lucasfilm, Marvel, and Pixar, Disney will soon be an umbrella that will encompass all of the 21st Century Fox properties.

But what exactly can we expect from Disney future projects as the Fox acquisition moves forward and Disney readies itself to jump into the streaming wars with the upcoming launch of Disney+? Walt Disney Studios chief Alan Horn is here to talk about that and more in a new interview about the House of Mouse as the company undergoes more upheaval — bad and good — than ever

In an extensive interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Horn spoke about the ambitious plans for the future of Disney. The House of Mouse is going through some major change as it prepares to enter the streaming wars and complete its biggest studio acquisition ever. Will the Disney brand stay the same even as its properties become more diverse? Yes, the Walt Disney Studios chief said.

The Fox Acquisition

"With Fox, we can make movies that right now I say no to," Horn said. "The audience for a Disney movie may not know what they are going to see, but they know what they aren't going to see. There are certain things we just can't include because we'll get letters."

20th Century Fox, who is behind such films as the Oscar-nominated Bohemian Rhapsody, the box office behemoth Avatar, and others, generally has fewer qualms about adult-oriented fare than Disney, which has had to maintain a family-friendly standard for much of its history. "To take over a major motion picture studio with a storied history and a hundred years of history is a very bold move," Horn said. "And the second reaction was, 'OK, how do we assimilate this into one company and have it function productively, and how do we actually make this work in practice going forward?'"

The solution: let Fox continue to do its thing, basically. Horn said:

Take Bohemian Rhapsody, which is PG-13. It's a hit movie and very, very good. But there's no way we could make it under the Disney label because the characters smoke cigarettes and other content. Nor could we have made [Warner Bros.' R-rated] Oscar-winning Argo because the characters smoke and use the F-word. We always have to think about the smoking policy.

But will that hands off approach continue? Disney began much that same way with its other studios Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Pixar, but there's no denying that a more family-friendly bent has begun to proliferate in Marvel and Star Wars movies. But perhaps that will change as Disney continues to expand into streaming with Disney+.

What to Look Forward to With Disney+

As Disney readies itself to dive into the streaming wars, Horn recounts how he told Sean Bailey, "I have good news. You can now make a McFarland, U.S.A. again." He explained, "That was an example of a wonderful movie that lost money. But this is the perfect vehicle for that kind of movie."

With Disney+, Horn said that the company can begin taking risks again. "The thing about these big movies is they get a lot of attention, whether positive or negative," Horn said. "So when they don't work, like Solo, the media says it's a failure." Now Disney+ is a chance for all the studios, not just Disney, to use the streaming service to test out new ideas that could be financial or creative risks. Horn said:

And the people at Disney Animation and Pixar are saying, "What can we do?" Everyone wears an additional hat now. Bob has said the service is now his No. 1 priority. Netflix and companies like Amazon represent the great disruption in our business and a seismic shift in consumer offerings and viewing patterns. The interesting thing, which is not resolved yet, is how big is the consumer appetite for these incremental services? I like our chances.

Disney+ is expected to launch sometime this year.