Bob Chapek Discusses the Future of Disney: ‘I’m Not Sure There’s Going Back’
By Movieguide® Staff
Walt Disney Company chief executive Bob Chapek revealed that the entertainment conglomerate would consider a new strategy for movie releases and not return to pre-pandemic theatrical windows.
“I think the consumer is probably more impatient than they’ve ever been before,” Chapek said during a recent Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Conference. “Particularly since now they’ve had the luxury of an entire year of getting titles at home pretty much when they want them. So I’m not sure there’s going back, but we certainly don’t want to do anything like cut the legs off a theatrical exhibition run.”
Chapek noted that Disney is still committed to its commitment to theatrical releases, which earned over $13 billion in 2019 across a record-setting 11 movies. While Chapek acknowledged that those movies “will continue to be a big deal” to Disney, he also recognized how COVID-19 could result in “profound” audience changes.
“I don’t think they’ll have much of a tolerance for a title, say, being out of theatrical for months, yet it hasn’t had a chance to actually be thrown into the marketplace in another distribution channel, just sort of sitting there getting dust,” Chapek said.
Disney’s new approach reflects Warner Bros.’ deal with HBO Max, in that the company will look to release new movies on Disney Plus and in theaters.
According to Variety, Disney’s upcoming RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON will open theatrically on March 5 and hit their streaming service the same day for an additional $30 for Disney+ subscribers, similar to 2020’s MULAN.
“It certainly makes a lot of sense right now, in a COVID world, to have an option,” Chapek said. “Obviously, theaters aren’t going to be 100% back. But it’s nice to know that we’ve got the ability for people who do want to enjoy it in their home — because they don’t quite feel confident in going to a movie theater — that they’ve got that choice. What this looks like in the future? Well, we’re going to gain a lot of experience and a lot of data points.”
After the successful run of WANDAVISION, Chapek says Disney expects similar reception to the upcoming Marvel projects such as FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER, which premieres this Spring, and LOKI, which is set to air sometime this Summer.
“In terms of fatigue, I guess that’s borne out in the numbers,” Chapek said. “I would say the situation is the same for Marvel as it is Lucas[film]. You know, if you look at it, we’ve averaged over a billion dollars a film since the acquisition of both Lucas[film] and Marvel, which I think is an absolutely incredible statistic.”
Disney also announced their interest in breaking into an adult market to help them compete with Netflix.
“What we didn’t realize was the non-family appeal that a service like Disney Plus would have. In fact, over 50% of our global marketplace [subscribers] don’t have kids, and that is the big difference,” Chapek said. “When 50% of the [subscribers to] Disney Plus don’t have kids, you really have the opportunity now to think much more broadly about the nature of your content.”