Disney’s billion-dollar ‘Guardians’ franchise takes hit on James Gunn’s firing

Disney cuts ties with James Gunn over pedophilia tweets

Disney has severed ties with ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ director and ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ producer James Gunn over unearthed tweets from the director joking about pedophilia and rape.

Walt Disney Studios dismissed the creative force behind one of its most lucrative film franchises in writer and director James Gunn, who was fired Friday after critics unearthed a series of old tweets in which he joked about topics ranging from pedophilia to the Holocaust.

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Gunn, 51, wrote and directed Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” film as well as its sequel, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.” He was also under contract to write the franchise’s third installment, which was rumored to have a 2020 release date.

The “Guardians” films have collectively grossed more than $1.6 billion at the worldwide box office. A critical and commercial success, “Guardians of the Galaxy” earned more than $770 million worldwide. The sequel was even more successful, earnings $863 million, according to Hollywood Reporter.

“The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him,” Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn said in a statement to Fox News.

Gunn briefly deleted his Twitter account on Friday, hours after conservative-leaning outlets uncovered controversial tweets dated from 2008 to 2011. The director returned to the platform later Friday, posting a lengthy explanation.

“For the record, when I made these shocking jokes, I wasn’t living them out. I know this is a weird statement to make, and seems obvious, but, still, here I am, saying it,” Gunn said.

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Walt Disney Studios has been one of the successful segments of the entertainment giant’s business in recent years, driven largely by the success of a series of Marvel and Star Wars films. “Guardians of the Galaxy” characters also feature prominently in the “Avengers” film series.

Gunn is Disney’s second high profile creative to exit the entertainment giant amid controversy. Animation legend John Lasseter, co-founder of Pixar, announced he will leave by the end of the year, after he acknowledged “missteps” while overseeing the studio behind such hits as Toy Story and The Incredibles.

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