Disney trying out some mature material at the ‘Prom?’

It looks like Disney is trying to catch up with the times and not have the innocent G-rated fare that pervades their extensive library.

Not to say they’ll be doling out PG-13 teen movies; but according to an article written in USA Today on Tuesday, Disney’s new film “Prom,” out April 29, is facing a lot of skepticism from people who think the film “won’t be able to handle any edginess in the storytelling.”

Director Joe Nussbaum (“Sleepover,” “Sydney White”) maintains that they’re “not going to show sex and drugs and cursing, which is a part of teenage life, for sure. But there are a lot of other parts to teenage life, too — insecurity, anxiety, disappointment on the negative side, and also falling in love, having crushes, and the excitement of an event like this on the positive side.”

So, who exactly is Disney trying to target here? High schoolers? This reassessment of their target audience seems similar to what the studio did with “Tangled” back in November when they tried to market their last fairy tale movie to boys.

I suppose I belong with the skeptics in this situation. Granted, I think the movie looks cute, but the trailer looks a little bit too similar to “High School Musical” to me:

I appreciate what Disney is trying to do. They are facing a generation where cutesy cartoons just aren’t bringing in the money anymore. 2009’s “Princess and the Frog” was a moderate success at best in terms of box office gross.

I honestly hope for the best for Disney. I personally would like to see more mature films released by them. I’m just not sure how all of this is going to fly with the parents of small children who are used to seeing the cute fairy tale princess movies. Parents can be a tough crowd, and Disney is rather famous for doing what they want.

So my question is: Can Disney succeed in marketing its films to new audiences while still retaining the audiences they used to cater to?

I realize that small children and their parents aren’t going to be completely left out, but the number of films released that cater to them are going to shrink in number. And I’m also not including Pixar films in this post. I am talking about straight-up Disney films.

What do you think guys? Is Disney making a smart PR move here? Or does it seem like a disaster in the making?

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