Walt Disney Studios Turns to “Sex Romps”

in Disney, Movies

Walt Disney posing in front of 'Sleeping Beauty' concept art.

Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios

Last month, President of Motion Pictures Sean Bailey abruptly left The Walt Disney Company after 15 years of service. Days later, former Searchlight Pictures Co-President David Greenbaum was appointed as his replacement. He will serve as President of Disney Live-Action and 20th Century Studios, and a recent report suggests he will bring a mature, indie tone to Walt Disney Studios.

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“Sean has been an incredibly important member of the Studio’s creative team for well over a decade,” Greenbaum said of Bailey. “He and his team have brought to the screen iconic stories and moments that have delighted fans around the world and will stand the test of time. I know he’ll continue to do great things, and I couldn’t be happier that he’s staying on as a producer of Tron: Ares (2025).”

Halle Bailey gazing upwards as Ariel in The Little Mermaid
Credit: Disney

But recent reporting suggests Greenbaum wasn’t a fan of Bailey’s take on live-action versions of Walt Disney Animation Studios classics. Puck claimed the former Searchlight executive pitched his philosophy to Walt Disney Studios with one simple question: “Does this movie need to exist?”

“Was anyone asking for a second take on a Haunted Mansion movie?” Puck wrote. “No, but it happened last year because everyone knows what the Haunted Mansion is. Does a live-action Moana need to exist when the original came out eight years ago and an animated Moana 2 is also happening? Probably not, but under the old model, that’s a no-brainer. Ditto the live-action Snow White and Lilo and Stitch remakes that are forthcoming.”

Though the live-action The Little Mermaid (2023) was a smash hit at the box office, it was a rarity among recent live-action films. In addition to The Haunted Mansion (2023), recent live-action remakes like Peter Pan & Wendy (2023) and Pinocchio (2022) flopped even when they arrived instantly on Disney+.

Yara Shahidi as Tinker Bell in 'Peter Pan & Wendy'
Credit: Disney

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Greenbaum allegedly plans to halt production on upcoming live-action remakes after closely watching the success of the already-completed Mufasa: The Lion King (2024) and Lilo & Stitch (2024). A new report from experts at IndieWire explored what kinds of films he might delve into instead.

Under Searchlight Pictures, Greenbaum produced artistic independent titles that IndieWire affectionately called “surrealist sex romps.” Walt Disney Pictures probably won’t let him take the family-friendly brand that far, but he could bring some of the grit and maturity of 20th Century Studios to the Disney side.  After all, the Disney studio has had success with adult titles from Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm’s Star Wars.

The Lion King live-action remake featuring Mufasa
Credit: Disney

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“There is a sense that Disney will focus more on originality and creativity rather than digging deeper into its IP library,” the report reads. “Disney instead needs to get in on the Barbie craze by going off-the-wall with existing brands — Greenbaum will need filmmakers who know how to deliver just that.”

“Some teams within 20th and Disney have already been combined, so it makes sense to roll up everything to Greenbaum,” it continues. “Greenbaum may use the opportunity to better focus the 20th banner, whether that’s leaning into raunchier comedies, horror films, or other more adult genres.”

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