Controversial R-Rated 2023 Movie Blows Up Disney Plus Top 10 Chart

Controversial R-Rated 2023 Movie Blows Up Disney Plus Top 10 Chart
Image credit: Film4, Disney+

The R-rated absurdist comedy has become a favorite of Disney+ subscribers.


  • The Disney+ library consists mostly of 'family-friendly' movies and TV shows.
  • However, an R-rated movie was added on March 7.
  • This movie is now in the streaming service's Global Top 10.

Speaking of full-length films, Disney continues to fill its streaming service with plenty of classics and new releases. From the original Star Wars trilogy to Taylor Swift: The Era's Tour, these are mostly the kind of movies you can watch with your family or show your teenage kids with confidence.

But Disney+ is expanding, competing with other services, and outside the U.S. it's often the only on-demand source for all of Disney's properties, including not just its in-house productions but also its distributed content. On March 7, 2024, for example, the streaming service added a movie distributed by Disney subsidiary Searchlight Pictures. Why are we even talking about this, you ask? Well, it's R-rated, but that didn't stop it from landing in the Top 10.

What Is This Movie About?

We're talking about the now Oscar-winning Poor Things, Yorgos Lanthimos' latest collaboration with screenwriter Tony McNamara, starring Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe, Ramy Youssef, Mark Ruffalo, Suzy Bemba, Christopher Abbott and Jerrod Carmichael.

Poor Things is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Irish postmodernist writer Alasdair Gray. The action begins in a futuristic steampunk version of Victorian London, in the home of eccentric surgeon Godwin Baxter (Dafoe), who, along with his newly minted assistant Max (Youssef), is caring for a supposedly mentally handicapped young woman named Bella.

Only her consciousness is rapidly evolving, and with it her sense of her own body, boundaries, and agency. Unwilling to remain a confined woman, she escapes with the promiscuous and untrustworthy lawyer Duncan Wedderburn (Ruffalo) on an adventure through Europe and North Africa that helps Bella understand herself and her place in the world — an adventure full of colorful sexual pleasures and the less colorful realities of sex work and attitudes toward women in the 19th century.

Despite general acclaim, particularly for its depiction of women's experiences and corporeal perceptions, the film has had its fair share of controversy — and no, we're not talking about the many graphic sequences. Some critics felt that Lanthimos and McNamara watered down the feminist undertones too much, emphasizing sexuality rather than the inner conflicts of the female characters in a sex-centered male world.

The Film's Skyrocketing Popularity on Disney+

Although the Disney-owned streaming service has no shortage of rather mature stories (such as Andor, WandaVision, or the relatively recently completed Loki ), it is unusual to see a newcomer on its roster that is not recommended for teens. This is especially true of the feature films, as many of them are still live-action or animated movies aimed at family audiences. Despite the R rating, however, Disney+ users were excited about the addition of Poor Things to the platform's library.

As of April 1, 2024, Poor Things ranks fourth among the Top 10 most-watched movies worldwide, holding the list for more than three weeks after being added to the service on March 7. It is noteworthy that in most European countries the film still occupies the leading positions.

In the USA the movie is available on Hulu . And even though this service has a lot of R-rated movies, Poor Things has been at the top of the ratings for a few weeks now. At the time of writing, it is in fifth place.

Controversial R-Rated 2023 Movie Blows Up Disney Plus Top 10 Chart - image 1

In other words, despite its graphic nature and the fact that Lanthimos and McNamara's approach to adapting Alasdair Gray's novel has raised no small number of questions about the appropriate use of feminist subtext, audiences have been very passionate about the film. So if you haven't seen Poor Things yet, we highly recommend checking it out by subscribing to Disney+ or Hulu.