Disney CEO Bob Iger's Marvel ‘Mutiny’, Says Focus is on Quality and not Quantity
Disney CEO Bob Iger's Marvel ‘Mutiny’, Says Focus is on Quality and not Quantity
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In what could be described as an upsetting news for Marvel fans across the globe, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced during a recent earnings call a plan to decrease the number of TV series and movies within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). This strategy, according to Iger, aims to prioritize content quality over quantity. However, it is not clear if this move will directly impact their consumer products division.

During the earnings call Bob Iger highlighted Disney's future projects, including a new "Toy Story" installment and "Inside Out 2," emphasizing the benefits of leveraging well-known intellectual property (IP) which can lead to lower marketing costs and higher perceived value.

Focusing on Quality

"We’re gradually reducing volume and shifting to approximately two TV series per year instead of the previous four, and decreasing our film output from possibly four per year to two, or at most three," stated Iger during the company’s quarterly earnings call on Tuesday. "We are actively working on defining this approach."

Iger emphasized that this reduction is part of Disney’s broader strategy to lower output while emphasizing quality, particularly within Marvel. He mentioned, "Marvel has a couple of exciting films planned for 2025, followed by more ‘Avengers’ projects that we're incredibly enthusiastic about. Overall, I'm very confident in our slate, which is receiving more and more of my attention. I have tremendous confidence in the team and the intellectual property we are developing, including our sequels, which are unmatched."

Recently, Disney unveiled its content lineup for 2025, featuring titles like "Captain America: Brave New World," "Thunderbolts," "The Fantastic Four," and "Blade," with four more Marvel movies scheduled for 2026, including "Fifth Avengers." Notably, Marvel is only releasing one film in 2024, titled "Deadpool & Wolverine."

For television audiences, the content slate includes a WandaVision spinoff named "Agatha." While Iger has previously indicated plans to reduce Marvel franchise output, he had not previously specified the exact number of titles Disney intends to release annually for both TV and film.

When questioned during the earnings call about the emphasis on sequels, Iger responded, "We will strike a balance between sequels and original content. In animation, we had a period dominated by original films from both Disney and Pixar; now, we're shifting back slightly to focus more on sequels."

Iger also mentioned Disney's upcoming plans for another "Toy Story" installment and the summer release of "Inside Out 2," noting that films based on well-known intellectual property (IP) have lower marketing costs and increased value.

Growth in Experiential Business

During the second quarter, Disney's financial success was largely attributed to its experiences division and streaming services. Hugh Johnston, The Walt Disney Company's Chief Financial Officer, reported a 13% year-over-year increase in operating income for Disney's parks and experiences. This growth was fueled by strong revenue gains at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, as well as domestic expansion at Walt Disney World and the cruise business.

While acknowledging a global slowdown in post-COVID travel and wage pressures, Johnston highlighted numerous opportunities for attendance growth, particularly in the cruise sector. He expressed confidence in achieving excellent returns from these opportunities.

Bullish on Sports Properties

In its direct-to-consumer entertainment segment, Disney reported a $47 million operating profit, a notable improvement from the $587 million loss in the same period last year. The overall streaming business, including ESPN+, also saw significant improvement with an $18 million loss compared to $659 million the previous year.

Despite anticipating a softer third quarter due to seasonal factors impacting Indian sports offerings, Disney remains optimistic about subscriber growth. CEO Bob Iger reaffirmed the expectation that combined streaming businesses will achieve profitability by the end of the 2024 fiscal year.

Regarding Disney's sports initiatives, Iger expressed enthusiasm about plans to integrate live games and studio shows from ESPN into Disney+ by the end of 2024. He highlighted long-term partnerships secured with major sports organizations, including college football championships, NCAA championships, and the NFL. Iger expressed confidence in securing a long-term NBA deal, emphasizing ESPN's unmatched position in the sports industry for the next decade.

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