Is Disney Just a Monopoly That Ruins Movies?

Like most every other company, Disney is struggling with the effects wrought by the pandemic. Ironically, their bad year follows one of their best years – one of the best years any entertainment company has ever had – and the domineering success they had in 2019 opens them up to criticism that they’ve gotten too big. 

One of those criticisms is their editing of movies to appear on their family-friendly streaming service Disney+. But is Disney really “running” movies? That’s debatable, but people can and have questioned their tactics. 

Disney was more than the ‘Lion King’ in 2019

The Walt Disney Company logo seen in Shanghai
The Walt Disney Company logo seen in Shanghai. | Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

One of the reasons that people pick on Disney is that they’re a big target and an easy target. To say they dominated the 2019 box office is an understatement. Per Variety, they made seven of the top ten biggest hits of last year: The Lion King, Frozen II, Captain Marvel, The Rise of  Skywalker, Toy Story 4 and Aladdin. All told, their movies accounted for an astounding 33 percent of the market. 

“We are very proud of our Studios team and the extraordinary slate of films they delivered to fans all around the world in 2019,” Disney Co-Chairman and Chief Creative Officer Alan Horn and Co-Chairman Alan Bergman said in a statement. “This was a year like no other!”

As if that weren’t enough, the Mouse house launched Disney+, with most of the attention going to the Star Wars series The Mandalorian, as Baby Yoda swept the nation. Aside from relatively minor duds like the Dumbo remake, it seemed Disney could do no wrong. 

Disney struggles in 2020

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Then came the coronavirus, which hurt every entertainment company, but Disney in particular, as it was forced to close its theme parks around the world. The company recently reopened its Florida parks but faced scrutiny for doing so as Covid-19 cases spiked in the state. And even before the virus hit, it was thought that Disney was going to trend downward this year, because it had front-loaded 2019 with so many hits.

Disney rebounded this month when Hamilton premiered on Disney+ in time for the July 4th weekend, and the filmed stage musical has been the talk of the Internet for weeks. Some people also made note of the fact that the video censored some f-bombs, says The Verge, although this was done with the agreement of the musical’s primary creative force, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Other shows have been altered on Disney+, however, and many people are unhappy with those. 

One of the movies edited, according to Newsweek, was Splash, the 1984 film that was one of the studio’s first “adult” hits and a rebound for the company that had come close to being taken over in the early 1980s. It contained brief nudity from Darryl Hannah’s mermaid, and the version on Disney+ obscures this with digitally added hair. 

Disney censors this, but not that 

Fans on Reddit were not amused, with one viewer grousing, “I absolutely despise censoring movies. Adventures in Babysitting’s been edited too. I just like to see the films as they were meant to been seen.” But another person countered, “TV stations have been editing movies for decades. That’s essentially what Disney+ is. Not a big deal IMO.”

However, after Disney+ lowered the hair on Daryl Hannah, the streamer raised eyebrows when X-Men: Days of Future Past premiered, and Hugh Jackman’s bare derriere was there for all to see, with no editing or other digital manipulation. It makes one wonder if the implication is that male nudity is OK, but female nudity is not.