Disney on Thursday unveiled a galaxy of new streaming offerings, including plans for 10 “Star Wars” series spin-offs and 10 Marvel series that will debut on Disney +. But even though Disney highlighted its expanding streaming portfolio, the company said theatrical release remains an important part of its big-budget shows.
In a virtual investor presentation, Disney CEO Bob Chapek pitched grand ambitions for his direct consumer efforts, relying heavily on some of the company’s biggest brands. Over the next few years, Disney plans to premiere directly on Disney + not just an armada of “Star Wars” and Marvel series, but 15 live action, Pixar and animated series, and 15 live action, Pixar and animated films.
Chapek said Disney + subscribers worldwide reached 86.8 million, up from 74 million last month. The service has easily exceeded most forecasts, reaching that number 13 months since its launch in November 2019.
Disney has said that one of its upcoming films, the animated “Raya and the Last Dragon,” will debut in March simultaneously in theaters and through special access on Disney +. It’s the same approach the company took earlier this fall for “Mulan,” with an early access fee of $ 30 on top of the monthly subscription of $ 8.
Disney has made other adjustments to reorient its film operations around streaming. Hulu, which this year launched the Andy Samberg comedy “Palm Springs” and Sarah Paulson’s thriller “Run”, will host more original films from 20th century studios and Searchlight Pictures.
Many in Hollywood had been eagerly awaiting Disney’s response afterWarnerMedia announcement last weekthat it will release its 17 2021 films – from “Dune” to “The Matrix 4” – simultaneously on its streaming platform, HBO Max, and in theaters.
This movement set off shock wavesa backlashof much of the film industry, including theater chains, production partners and somethe best talents in the studio. Christopher nolancriticized the plans as “a little messy”.Some have said that long-term planned end times for theaters have arrived. Others have questioned the economics of one of Hollywood’s top studios sacrificing a box office year – and the cascading exit windows that follow a theatrical run – to save HBO Max’s rocky rollout – a service that many HBO subscribers have yet to activate.
Approved by Wall Street. Shares of WarnerMedia’s parent company AT&T are up about 6% since the announcement by Jason Kilar, CEO of WarnerMedia and veteran of Hulu and Amazon. John Stankey, chief executive of AT&T, said on Tuesday that the pandemic has sparked a new media reality unlikely to disappear after COVID-19. “This horse left the barn,” he says.
But Disney has signaled that while it will continue to be flexible during the pandemic in the distribution of its films and series, it still views the theatrical release as valuable. After several postponements, the Marvel movie “Black Widow” is scheduled to hit theaters on May 7th.
Compared to WarnerMedia, the current situation is very different for Disney, which has already laid the groundwork for a formidable Netflix competitor of Disney + and who for yearsdominated the box office.Disney has experimented with the premium digital release of “Mulan” and Pixar’s upcoming release “Soul,” but its box office may have been the envy of Hollywood. The company’s films accounted for more than $ 13 billion in ticket sales worldwide last year and 38% of film showings in the United States and Canada. Seven Disney films have exceeded $ 1 billion worldwide.
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