'The Shape of Water' Producer Calls Out Disney/Fox Deal in Critics' Choice Awards Speech

Accepting the Critics' Choice Award for Best Picture on behalf of Fox Searchlight Pictures release The Shape of Water, producer J. Miles Dale urged Disney CEO Bob Iger "not to mess" with the specialty films branch of 21st Century Fox's entertainment division.

"Thank you so much to the critics, and thank you to Fox Searchlight. [Director Guillermo del Toro] said it before, but they're making the kind of movies that we need to make, we want to make, and people need to see," Dale said.

"I don't know if Bob Iger's out there or not, I don't know what's gonna happen with this Disney thing, but I urge you not to mess this up. They've got a good thing going and they rock."

Disney purchased 21st Century Fox's film and television division in December for $52.4 billion. Both companies expect the regulatory process surrounding the deal to take between 12 and 18 months.

The purchase sees Disney take ownership of the 20th Century Fox movie studio, including the Fox Searchlight Pictures branch, which specializes in the North American distribution of independent and art house films.

Fox Searchlight releases Slumdog Millionaire, 12 Years a Slave and Birdman took home the Academy Award for Best Picture.

The prestigious branch has released critical darlings Sideways, Little Miss Sunshine, Black Swan, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Brooklyn.

Filmmaker James Mangold, director of Fox's R-rated Marvel adaptation Logan, previously expressed concerns Disney's purchase of the studio would lead to the extinction of certain films not suitable under the Disney brand.

“If they’re actually changing their mandate, if what they’re supposed to do alters, that would be sad to me because it just means less movies,” Mangold said. ”I just hope what we end up with is going to be a positive in terms of movies.”

Mangold's gritty and bloody Logan, standing opposite the PG-13 fare offered by Disney-owned Marvel Studios, wouldn't be made by Disney because it's a "grown-up movie."

“The real thing that happens when you make a movie rated R, behind the scenes, is that the studio has to adjust to the reality that there will be no Happy Meals," Mangold explained. "There will be no action figures."

Iger said in December R-rated Marvel movies are being considered.

Disney once owned indie label Miramax, producing adult fare like Kevin Smith's Clerks and Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction.

The studio has since sold Miramax, but still owns the inactive Touchstone Pictures, a distribution label offering Disney to produce and distribute films inappropriate for the more family-friendly Walt Disney Pictures label.

Through Touchstone, Disney released R-rated hits Pretty Woman, Con Air, and Gangs of New York.

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