Disney is getting back into the business of R-rated movies this weekend with Stuber. Disney is notoriously a family-friendly company that generally, at least in the past, avoided going over a PG-13 whenever possible. However, with the recent merger with Fox, they've crossed into a new era and, while R-rated movies may not be released under the main Disney banner, the Mouse House is definitely going to be pushing the envelope more, and that starts this weekend.
Stuber, an action/comedy that stars Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick), was a project that Disney inherited as part of its $71 billion merger with Fox. So it's not an R-rated movie that got the green light under their watch, but nevertheless, it's going to be the first time the studio has released an R-rated movie in six years. The last time this happened was when their Touchstone Pictures division released The Fifth Estate, a thriller starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Alicia Vikander, back in 2013.
Yet, this is a trend we're going to see more of. Not only because the studio inherited several other R-rated projects from 20th Century Fox, but because Disney now owns the rights to several franchises that they're going to want to use in order to make their multi-billion dollar investment worthwhile. As such, Disney is working on two new Kingsman movies, in addition to their plans to work with Ryan Reynolds on further Deadpool installments, amongst other projects. They also now control the rights to franchises such as Alien and Die Hard, which can't really be done properly in a PG-13 setting. So, things will need to change. The release of Stuber is, in some ways, the start of a new era for the studio. Albeit a relatively humble one.
Stuber centers on a mild-mannered Uber driver named Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) who unwittingly picks up a passenger (Dave Bautista), who just so happens to be a cop who is closing in on a brutal killer. Unfortunately, the cop can't drive himself due to a recent Lasik eye surgery, meaning Stu is in for a lot more than he bargained for. But he'll have to go along for the ride in order to maintain his ever-important five-star Uber rating.
Michael Dowse is in the director's chair with a cast that also includes Iko Uwais, Natalie Morales, Betty Gilpin, Jimmy Tatro, Mira Sorvino and Karen Gillan. The movie held its premiere earlier this year during SXSW and the response coming out of that screening seemed to be more positive than not. However, currently, Stuber holds a not-so-great 49 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is on track to make between $15 and $20 million in its opening weekend. While that's not a resounding success, it's simply the beginning of this new R-rated Disney future. Stuber arrives in theaters this weekend from Disney and 20th Century Fox.