Posts tagged with "Disney"

Robert Iger returns as Disney CEO, as Bob Chapek is ousted

November 22, 2022

On Sunday night,  November 20, Walt Disney’s board of directors CEO Bob Chapek with Robert Iger, the company’s former chairman and CEO who left the company at the end of last year, reports The Wall Street Journal.

“The board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely situated to lead the company through this pivotal period,” said Susan Arnold, chairman of Disney’s board, in a statement.

“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” she added.

The surprise change comes at a tumultuous time for Disney.

This month, the company reported weaker-than-expected fourth quarter financial results—killing the momentum built up over a strong year that saw record revenue and profits in multiple divisions, especially the one that includes theme parks.

Disney’s theme-park business has recovered strongly since the coronavirus pandemic shut down its venues across the world, but the division continues to subsidize widening losses in the streaming video business.

Chapek has said repeatedly that he expects the streaming business to be profitable by September 2024. In the most recent quarter, however, it lost $1.47 billion, more than twice the year-earlier loss.

The company also cautioned that its profitability target would only be met if there weren’t a significant economic downturn—the first time it has added such a caveat. Disney’s stock price shot up 9% to more than $100 a share in premarket trading early Monday. Some observers said the management change might benefit the company’s stock.

In anemail to employees Sunday night, Iger said he was returning to the company.

“It is with an incredible sense of gratitude and humility—and, I must admit, a bit of amazement—that I write to you this evening with the news that I am returning to the Walt Disney Company as chief executive officer,” he wrote in the email, which was viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Several top Disney executives first learned the news that Iger was returning after they read his Sunday email, while some of them were together attending an Elton John concert at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles that was streamed live on Disney’s flagship streaming service Disney+, according to people familiar with the matter.

Chapek also was expected to attend the event and the company had planned for him to introduce Elton John from the stage before the concert, according to two people with knowledge of the plans, although it isn’t clear if Chapek actually was there, they said. Other Disney employees said they were baffled by Iger’s Sunday email and immediately began asking if the message to employees was real or if it came from a hacked email account.

Negotiations between Iger and the board to return as CEO were initiated only in recent days, according to a person familiar with the talks. Iger has said publicly on at least two occasions over the past year that he isn’t interested in returning to Disney. In recent months, he has focused on investing in and advising startups, particularly in the technology industry.

Adding to the surprise, Chapek, who has served as CEO since February 2020, over the summer saw his contract renewed through the end of 2024. At the time,. Arnold, the board chair, said that while the company was “dealt a tough hand by the pandemic,” Chapek “not only weathered the storm but emerged in a position of strength.”

Wells Fargo analyst Steven Cahall wrote in a note to clients: “Iger will be viewed as a catalyst to improve the content aspects of Disney, and we expect bigger potential strategic changes around the long-term shape of” the streaming business.

Chapek couldn’t be reached for comment.

Research contact: @WSJ

Ready to rock: Netflix sets first live-streamed event with Chris Rock special

November 14, 2022

Netflix will stream an event live for the first time next year, with comedian Chris Rock hosting a real-time special for the on-demand platform that has lured millions of viewers away from traditional broadcast television, reports Yahoo.

The standup show—which will be Rock’s second for Netflix after 2018’s “Chris Rock: Tamborine,”—will be available to watch in early 2023, the company said, without providing further details.

“Chris Rock is one of the most iconic and important comedic voices of our generation,” said Netflix Comedy VP Robbie Praw, in a statement. “We’re thrilled the entire world will be able to experience a live Chris Rock comedy event and be a part of Netflix history.

Praw added, “This will be an unforgettable moment and we’re so honored that Chris is carrying this torch.”

Netflix, which lost subscribers for the first time earlier this year before recently reporting a return to growth, has been experimenting with new models, including a cheaper subscription option subsidized by advertisements.

On Tuesday, November 8, The Wall Street Journal reported that Netflix was looking into offering live sports on its platform for the first time. Rivals including Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video already offer live events, including sports and musical events.

Netflix hosts a live comedy festival at more than 35 venues in Los Angeles, but those shows have not yet been available to stream live on its platform.

Rock, one of the world’s biggest comics, drew headlines in March when he was slapped on-stage by Will Smith at the Oscars.

Research contact: @Yahoo

Disney debuts first animated heroine to struggle with body image

October 31, 2022

Reflect, a new short film on Disney+, explores the challenges young people often face with body image—and fans are praising the concept, reports People.

An episode in the latest season of Short Circuit Experimental Films, the story centers around Bianca, who feels out of place in her ballet class and worries she is less-than her classmates. Battling her reflection, she channels her inner strength to help overcome her self-doubt by immersing herself in dance. She eventually comes to appreciate the body that had before caused her feel unsure of herself.

Director Hillary Bradfield, who worked as a storyboard artist on Avatar: The Way of Water, says it’s all about body positivity. “I feel like I’m a very body-positive person in principle,” she said in the series. “But when it’s on a personal level it’s a lot harder to be body positive.”

“Setting the story from a dancer’s perspective seemed just natural,” Bradfield said. “It’s part of the craft to be looking at your posture and checking things in the mirror, so it just seemed like a really good way to put her in that environment where she has to look at herself but she doesn’t want to.

“When people watch the short, I hope they can feel more positively about themselves and how they look—and feel okay about the tough parts of the journey,” she said. “Sometimes you go to the dark place to get to the good place and that just makes the good place that much more beautiful.”

The new programming was created to give a voice to a wider variety of people and stories — any of the artists at Disney Animation Studios can pitch an idea and have an opportunity to create their own short film.

So far, Reflect has received a lot of praise by fans who can relate to Bianca’s character.

“THIS IS NOT A DRILL! Disney+ FINALLY made a short with a Plus Size lead!” one fan wrote on Twitter. “Let’s just say I was SOBBING.”

Another commenter responded with a similar sentiment. “16 year old me needed this Disney short before I quit ballet because I didn’t want to be the fat girl in class anymore,” she wrote.

“I’m glad little ones will have this,” the second fan added. “10/10 for Reflect!”

President of Disney’s General Entertainment Content Karey Burke told employees in March that Disney aims to have at least half of its characters come from “underrepresented groups.”

Research contact: @people

Movie tickets at many U.S. theaters will cost just $3 on National Cinema Day

August 30, 2022

Movie tickets nationwide will cost just $3 on Saturday, September 3, in celebration of National Cinema Day, reports The Verge (via Associated Press). If you’ve never heard of such a holiday before (at least in the United States), that’s because it never existed until now, apparently.

The $3 ticket price (not including tax) applies across all tickets, formats, and showtimes—and yes, this includes IMAX and 3D movies. So far, a growing list of 3,000 theaters, including popular chains, like RegalCinemark, and AMC, have agreed to take part in the new holiday.

You might not want to count out your local, independently-run theaters, either. In a list of participating theaters viewed by The Verge, we spotted several smaller locations, like the Starmax Cinemas in Vandalia, Illinois, and the Wellfleet Cinema drive-in participating theaters also will show a “special sneak peek” of upcoming movies from various studios, including Disney, Universal, Lionsgate, Paramount, Warner Bros., and more.

The Cinema Foundation, a nonprofit organization created by the National Association of Theatre Owners earlier this year, came up with National Cinema Day as a way to encourage people to return to the theaters. Labor Day weekend is a notoriously slow time for movie theaters, due to a lack of new releases, but perhaps National Cinema Day could help change that.

Movie theaters took a pretty big hit during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and also have contended with a hybrid release model that has some movies hitting theaters and streaming services the same day. Last year, theaters signed deals with studios like Warner Bros.Paramount, and Disney to promise periods of in-theater exclusivity for certain films (although they’re much shorter than what they’ve been in the past).

But this summer had an impressive number of people returning to theaters, thanks to blockbusters like “Thor: Love and Thunder and Jordan Peele’s horror film “Nope.”

According to data from Comscore, this summer’s box office raked in $3.027 billion—a 134.6% increase when compared to last summer.

“After this summer’s record-breaking return to cinemas, we wanted to do something to celebrate moviegoing,” Jackie Brenneman, the Cinema Foundation’s president said in a statement. “We’re doing it by offering a ‘thank you’ to the moviegoers that made this summer happen, and by offering an extra enticement for those who haven’t made it back yet.”

Research contact: @TheVerge

BTS is coming to Disney in a major streaming deal

July 12, 2022

Disney is bringing the wildly popular South Korean boy band BTS to its streaming services, adding the world’s biggest band to its roster of digital stars, CNN Business announced first on July 12.

 The entertainment and theme park giant said on Monday, July 11, that it would add new original shows featuring members of the pop group to Disney+.

That will result in five new titles with HYBE, BTS’ management company. The firm was previously known as Big Hit Entertainment.

 At least two of the new titles will be shot with the entire band, including a taped concert special in Los Angeles and a behind-the-scenes documentary series. Disney expects the latter to debut next year.

 In a recorded video message shared with CNN Business, the band said they were looking forward to showing fans “a more up-close and personal side of us.”

 BTS has enjoyed meteoric success in recent years, attracting legions of fans around the world known as the “Army.”

 Recently, however, the seven-person group announced that they would be taking a break to explore various projects—including some on a solo basis.

The new tie-up with Disney reflects that. One forthcoming title is a reality show that will see V, a BTS star, head on vacation with other Korean celebrities, the company said.

 The band’s documentary also will take a peek into their daily lives “as they prepare for their second chapter,” Disney and HYBE said in a joint statement.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The move shows how Disney is focusing on top-tier talent as it continues to go after Netflix  and cash in on the recent wave of popularity surrounding Korean content and culture.

 Last year, for example, fans worldwide buzzed over “Squid Game,” the South Korean hit from Netflix that became the company’s top show globally. Disney said it also has found success with titles like “Snowdrop,” a Korean series that has become one of its most-watched titles throughout Asia recently.

 “This collaboration represents our creative ambition—to work with iconic content creators and top stars in Asia-Pacific so their talent can be enjoyed by mainstream audiences in multiple ways,” Jessica Kam-Engle, Disney’s head of content for Asia Pacific, said in a statement. “We believe these new titles will captivate consumers worldwide and look forward to introducing more music content on our service.”

 The move is part of a major expansion into Asian content announced by the company last October. It plans to greenlight more than 50 original titles from the region by 2023.

 The Hollywood giant said at the time that it was commissioning new shows from South Korea, Japan, Australia, Taiwan and Indonesia. Many of the programs will be presented in local languages, from Bahasa Indonesia to Mandarin.

 Netflix has also been pouring money into original Asian language content, and touting the global success of its Korean and Japanese programs in particular.

 Research contact: @CNNBusiness

Netflix may offer lower-priced, ad-supported plans

April 21, 2022

After years of resisting the idea of running advertisements on its streaming service, Netflix now is “open” to offering lower-priced tiers with ads, co-CEO Reed Hastings said on Tuesday, April 19, reports CNBC.

Hastings has long been opposed to adding commercials or other promotions to the platform, but said during the company’s prerecorded earnings conference call that it “makes a lot of sense” to offer customers a cheaper option.

“Those who have followed Netflix know that I have been against the complexity of advertising and a big fan of the simplicity of subscription,” Hastings said. “But as much as I am a fan of that, I am a bigger fan of consumer choice, and allowing consumers who would like to have a lower price and are advertising-tolerant to get what they want makes a lot of sense.”

The option likely wouldn’t be available on the service for a year or two, Hastings said. A new ad-supported tier has a lot of profit potential for Netflix, which on Tuesday reported its first subscriber loss in more than a decade.

Netflix cited growing competition from recent streaming launches by traditional entertainment companies, as well as rampant password sharing, inflation. and the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine for the recent stall in paid subscriptions.

In an effort to lure more subscribers, Netflix has increased its content spend, particularly on originals. To pay for it, the company hiked prices of its service. Netflix said those price changes are helping to bolster revenue but were partially responsible for a loss of 600,000 subscribers in the U.S. and Canada during the most recent quarter.

A lower-tier option that includes advertisements could keep some price-conscious consumers with the service and provide Netflix with a different avenue to garner funds.

“It’s pretty clear that it’s working for Hulu. Disney is doing it. HBO did it,” Hastings said. “I don’t think we have a lot of doubt that it works.”

Research contact: @CNBC

Netflix plans to offer video games in push beyond films and TV

July 19, 2021

Netflixmarking its first big move beyond TV shows and films—is planning an expansion into video games and has hired a former Electronic Arts and Facebook executive to lead the effort, Fortune Magazine reports.

Mike Verdu will join Netflix as vice president of Game Development, reporting to COO Greg Peters, the company said on Wednesday, July17. Verdu was previously Facebook’s vice president in charge of working with developers to bring games and other content to Oculus virtual-reality headsets.

In Verdu, the company has an executive who worked on popular mobile games at Electronic Arts, including titles in the Sims, Plants vs. Zombies and Star Wars franchises. He also served as chief creative officer for Zynga between 2009 and 2012.

The idea, according to a source, is to offer video games on Netflix’s streaming platform within the next year, Fortune says. The games will appear alongside current fare as a new programming genre—similar to what Netflix did with documentaries and stand-up specials. The company doesn’t currently plan to charge extra for the content, said the source, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private.

Netflix has been seeking ways to keep growing, especially in more saturated markets such as the United States. That’s included building out its kids’ programmingopening an online shop to sell merchandise, and tapping Steven Spielberg to bring more prestigious movies to its lineup.

The company remains well ahead of streaming rivals such as Disney+ or HBO Max, Fortune notes, but it added fewer subscribers than expected in its most recently reported quarter.

Netflix will be building out its gaming team in the coming months, according to the person familiar with the matter. The company has already started advertising for game-development related positions on its website.

Ultimately, the move may make it easier for Netflix to justify price increases in coming years. Games also serve the purpose of helping market existing shows.

Netflix has previously licensed the rights to games based on its shows—including Stranger Thing—but this new initiative is much larger in scope. The Los Gatos, California-based company has yet to settle on a game-development strategy, said the person.

In typical Netflix fashion, the company may start with just a few games and build from there.

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

James Bond, meet Jeff Bezos: Amazon just bought MGM Studios for $8.45 billion

May 27, 2021

Jeff Bezos has a new pet lion, Fast Company reports.

Amazon has reached a deal to acquire the storied MGM Studios for $8.45 billion—a move that will significantly bulk up its content library and entertainment intellectual property (IP) in the escalating war between premium streaming services, reports Fast Company.

In a joint announcement on Wednesday, May 26, the companies said MGM’s arsenal of more than 4,000 titles—including franchises ranging from James Bond and The Pink Panther to the Rocky and Poltergeist movies—will complement the Seattle e-commerce giant’s existing Amazon Studios, which is largely focused on TV series.

For Amazon, the acquisition is the largest since it scooped up Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion in 2017, Fast Company says. It comes as competing firms such as Disney and Netflix are spending more and more each year to keep their streaming services replenished with fresh movies, TV series, and familiar franchises.

“The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team,”

Research contact: @FastCompany

You can now transform your dog into a cartoon character using a new Snapchat filter

August 20, 2020

If you think your pet simply couldn’t be any cuter, try the new cartoon face filter on Snapchat. Suddenly, your “fur-ever friend” will look like a character out of a Disney animated film.

After the filter was discovered by a dog owner named Danielle Sugdenm, she took  took to the Facebook group, Dogspotting Society, to share the news, the UK’s Daily Mirror reports

Sugdenm wrote: “For those that don’t know… Snapchat has a new filter and it basically Disneyfies your dog. YOU ARE WELCOME. Plz post your Disney dawgs here.”

People went wild over her post and it quickly garnered over 9,000 likes and more than 3,000 comments. What’s more, her fellow dog lovers soon began sharing their own photos.

“Aww omg,” replied one user.

Another said: “So I guess I’m getting Snapchat now.”

A third added: “I just woke the baby from laughing so loud.”

The filter seemed to work on most pups – but there were a few users who couldn’t use it on their dogs. In one hilarious instance, the filter was applied only on the end of the dog’s nose. Its owner joked: “He looks just like a prince now from Disney.”

Research contact: @DailyMirror

A ‘Mandalorian’ PEZ dispenser gift set is coming and it will be an instant collectible

July 21, 2020

While the hype around Baby Yoda feels like it was years ago, it’s safe to say that everyone still has a soft spot for the breakout character of Disney+’s The MandalorianPeople may not be actively obsessing over the cute creature as much as they once were, but he’s still popping up as toys, a cereal, and now, as a PEZ dispenser, Delish reports.

If you’re a PEZ dispenser collector or just like eating the chewy little candies, this is huge news. PEZ dispensers are a phenomenon themselves, with new characters constantly coming out and super rare dispensers going for steep prices on resale sites like eBay.

The Baby Yoda dispenser might see a similar fate after it comes out because of the sheer popularity of the character and the fact that the other Yoda dispensers have been retired in years past. News of the candy was spotted by @DadBodSnacks on Instagram—at which a Baby Yoda plush and candy combo as well as new Harry Potter PEZ dispensers are heralded, as well.

The Baby Yoda dispenser comes in a set along with a Mandalorian dispenser and grape, lemon, and strawberry PEZ candy. The new Harry Potter dispensers already are available on the PEZ site, but the Mandalorian candy set is not, Delish reports; so it’s unclear when exactly these will be available online or if they’ll be available in stores as well.

Research contact: @DelishDotCom