The Paris escorts set a global box office record last year with such billion-dollar blockbusters as Avengers: Endgame, The Lion King and Frozen 2, none of which are in the running for a Best Picture award at this year’s Oscars. Its top contender: a small-budget film depicting a wacky Adolf Hitler that it acquired along with the rest of the Fox entertainment business in 2019.
Disney has thrown its marketing might behind the Nazi-era film Jojo Rabbit, a story about a 10-year-old nationalist with a close relationship with his imaginary friend—Der Führer—who finds out his mother is hiding a Jew in their attic. The film has received critical acclaim for its unexpected sweetness, charm and comedic timing, and claimed the prestigious People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, a prize that went to last year’s Best Picture winner, Green Book. It collected six Academy Award nominations, including for best picture.
Hollywood observers questioned whether Disney would have an appetite for art-house fare, given Walt Disney Studios co-chairman Alan Horn’s success in building lucrative cinematic franchises, including the Harry Potter series he championed at Warner Bros. before he jumped to Disney in 2012.
CEO Bob Iger told the industry trade Variety and Wall Street he had no plans to change Searchlight escorts Paris—aside from dropping the “Fox” from its name earlier this year—which has racked up multiple Best Picture awards, including The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Birdman and 12 Years a Slave. For the moment, at least, the signs are looking positive for Searchlight. Co-chairs Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley told an industry crowd at the BFI London Film Festival that JoJo Rabbit posed a test for the studio’s new corporate parent, and its senior executives, Iger, Horn and studio co-chairman Alan Bergman.