Disney Plans to Produce Original Content for New Streaming Service

Everybody is getting into the streaming business. Not content to sit back and let Netflix have all the fun, Disney is getting ready to launch their own streaming service. And just like Netflix, they now plan to create their own original movies and TV shows. Get the details on the Disney streaming service below.

Breaking up can be hard. The seemingly tranquil relationship between Disney and Netflix is nearing its end, and we’re all about to become children of this divorce, pulled in two directions by our streaming parents. In August, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that Disney would be forming their own streaming service, and promptly pulling their content off of streaming platforms like Netflix. Iger called the move “a strategic shift in the way we distribute our content,” although later he walked things back slightly and said that while Disney’s own films were definitely expected to move to their new streaming service, the fate of Star Wars and Marvel films was still being determined. That changed rather quickly, however, when Iger later confirmed that Marvel and Star Wars titles would move as well.

Now Iger is doubling-down on the Disney streaming service, giving more details as to why Disney is making the move (via Heroic Hollywood):

“[W]hat we’re doing is we’re taking product out there direct-to-consumers, a sports product in 2018 and a Disney-branded product in 2019. And we’re doing that because we experienced and see a huge disruption in the media business. It doesn’t take a genius, I think, to conclude that the media business today doesn’t look anything like the media business even five years ago. At some point, we felt it would be necessary for us to not only be disruptive but to disrupt our business ourselves. The decision to do that came when we felt we were no longer seeing a speedbump of disruption, which is basically something that occurs, changes things a bit and we react to it. What we were seeing instead was real, profound and permanent change.”

And that’s not all. Just as Netflix has grown their brand by producing their own TV shows and movies, so shall the Disney streaming service. Per Iger:

“We’ll make original films for the platform, probably about five a year. Those will be made specifically for the platform. And we’ll do the same for television. We’ll make original TV series; we’ll take Disney Channel series and move them eventually to this platform. And we’ll also fill it in with shorts and other library product. So it’ll have thousands of hours of Disney, Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars-branded product on it.”

Iger claims the streaming service will produce at least five new films per year, along with original series. The Disney streaming service is expected to go live some time in 2019, which gives Netflix plenty of time to send a really nice Edible Arrangement to the Disney offices with a card begging them not to go.

From SlashFilm

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Disney CEO Bob Iger Says He’s Stepping Down in 2019, and This Time He Means It

Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger is finally planning his exit from the company.

Speaking at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit on Tuesday, Iger said that he plans to actually step down as CEO of Disney in mid 2019.

“This time I mean it,” Iger said during the summit. “It’s time.”

There has been speculation that the Disney  chief might consider a political career following his departure, but when asked about it he said, “let’s not go there,” according to Variety.

Earlier this year Disney’s board of directors extended Iger’s contract through July 2, 2019. That move came after the man widely expected to succeed him, former Chief Operating Officer Tom Skaggs, left the company after it became clear he would not get the job.

Iger had planned to step down in 2018, but only after an earlier planned exit in 2016 was pushed back. It’s unclear if the company has a suitable internal candidate as successor or will have to look outside.

 

 

Disney’s Iger Says Shanghai Resort Close to Breaking Even

Walt Disney Co.’s ambitious $5.5 billion Shanghai theme park is close to breaking even after its first full year of operations — a mark none of its resorts have been able to hit in the last 30 years, said Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger.

“That’s an extraordinary achievement. I’m not sure we’ve ever done that,” said Iger in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Tom Mackenzie on Friday as the Shanghai Disney Resort celebrated its first anniversary. “After the first year, I’m pleased to say that prospects are really strong for continued success and continued growth.”

The park logged more than 11 million visitors earlier this week, Iger said. The Shanghai development, Disney’s first in mainland China and its largest foreign investment, throws the Burbank, California-based giant into the race to dominate the country’s $204 billion media and entertainment industry.

In China, there’s potential for Disney to build a second park in the long run, Iger said, adding it would focus on the Shanghai resort first. A Toy Story themed land opening is planned for next year.

“Before we really look to the horizon geographically, we will focus on expanding this park,” Iger said. “Might we build in another city over time? Yes. There’s a great likelihood that we will. But it’s way too early.”

Disney’s shares rose 0.3 percent to $106.34 as of 9:30 in New York trading.

Half the resort’s visitors are from Shanghai and adjacent areas, with the remainder coming from other Chinese cities, Iger said. Park attendance is higher than expected, with “extremely high” occupancy rates at its hotel. The food and beverage business, as well as merchandising, has faced some challenges, he said.

The resort’s attendance for the 12 months after its opening puts it in the top seven of theme parks worldwide, ahead of Disney’s Hong Kong and Paris parks but behind its most popular parks in Florida, California and Japan.

From Bloomberg

Bob Iger Says No to Virtual Reality Headsets at Disney parks, Aims for Augmented Reality Instead

Walt Disney Co.’s chief executive has no interest in having theme park visitors strap on virtual reality headsets that block out their view and place them inside a digital world.

Smaller rivals, including Knott’s Berry Farm, SeaWorld and Six Flags, have turned to such virtual reality experiences as an affordable way to spice up rides, but Disney CEO Bob Iger said reality-destroying headsets would be “ersatz” at his stable of parks. He’s ordered his team not to even think about it.

Iger, speaking at a USC event in Santa Monica on Thursday, instead talked up the possibility of launching high-tech augmented reality attractions. Those will still probably involve headgear, but the devices will blend the real and digital worlds.

Iger noted he spends each Tuesday afternoon at a Disney engineering lab sporting a head-worn device that enables him to hold a light-saber and duel with a stormtrooper.

He could be referring to a partnership with augmented reality device maker Magic Leap. Iger expressed hope the gadget would get lighter and more comfortable someday.

He didn’t shed more details. But it’s possible that game would contrast with virtual reality rides at other theme parks because people would be on a large set and moving around other people, as opposed to standing in place and only seeing computer projections. Disneyland currently offers a popular Jedi Training Academy in Tomorrowland, with live characters who pretend to fight light-saber-wielding children visiting the park.

“What we create is an experience that is real,” Iger said. “When you walk into Cars Land, you feel you’re in Radiator Springs because of what we’ve built — not only the attention to the detail, but the scale.”

Iger described how Disney spent considerable time and money ensuring robots cast as “Avatar” characters would have vibrant facial expressions at an attraction opening in May at its Orlando theme park,

This “will have expressions you will not believe in terms of how Na’vi-like they are,” he said, referring to the human-like alien race in the film franchise.

Theme park experts had already speculated that virtual reality headsets would be unlikely at Disneyland. “Theme park purists don’t like” them, Martin Lewison, a business management professor at Farmingdale State College, said last year. “They’d much rather go on a $250-million ride at Disneyland than throw a mask strapped to a Samsung smartphone over my eyes.”

Iger also shed some insight into the upcoming “Star Wars” attraction at Disney parks in Anaheim and Orlando. One ride is expected to let visitors joyride in the cockpit of Han Solo’s spaceship, Millennium Falcon.

“It’s pretty good, real good,” Iger said of test rides he’s done in a simulator.

From The Los Angeles Times

Disney Extends CEO Bob Iger’s Contract to 2019

The Walt Disney Co. said Thursday that Bob Iger is extending his tenure as CEO again.

Set to retire from the entertainment giant in June 2018, Iger has now re-upped his contract until July 2, 2019 amid concerns among industry observers that there is no heir apparent within the company’s executive ranks.

“Leading this great company is a tremendous privilege, and I am honored to have been asked to continue serving as CEO through July 2, 2019,” Mr. Iger said in a statement. “Even with the incredible success the company has achieved, I am confident that Disney’s best days are still ahead, and I look forward to continuing to build on our proven strategy for growth while working with the Board to identify a successor as CEO and ensure a successful transition.”

The terms of his employment agreement “remain unchanged,” except for certain provisions, Disney said in a regulatory filing. His annual compensation for the extended employment period “will be determined on the same basis as his annual compensation for fiscal 2016.”

If Iger remains until July 2, 2019, he will receive a cash bonus of $5 million “in addition to an award for fiscal 2019 under the company’s management incentive bonus program,” it said. “Following the termination of his employment at the expiration date, to enable the company to have access to Mr. Iger’s unique skills, knowledge and experience with regard to the media and entertainment business, Mr. Iger will serve as a consultant to the company for a period of three years.”

He will the provide “assistance, up to certain specified monthly and annual maximum time commitments, on such matters as his successor as chief executive officer may request from time to time.”

For his consulting services, Iger will receive a quarterly fee of $500,000 for each of the first eight quarters and $250,000 for each of the last four quarters of the consulting period. “For the three years following termination of employment, the company will also provide Mr. Iger with the same security services (other than the personal use of a company provided aircraft) as it has made available to him as chief executive officer,” the filing said.

Former Disney COO Tom Staggs was considered Iger’s likely successor until his abrupt departure last spring. At the time of Staggs’ exit, the Disney board vowed to “broaden the scope of its succession-planning process to identify and evaluate a robust slate of candidates.” It has since been mum about its succession planning. At the time, industry observers mentioned Facebook COO and Disney board member Sheryl Sandberg as a possible candidate.

Disney’s stock as of 11:10 a.m. ET was up 0.7 percent at $112.88, near its 52-week high of $113.16.

“Given Bob Iger’s outstanding leadership, his record of success in a changing media landscape, and his clear strategic vision for Disney’s future, it is obvious that the Company and its shareholders will be best served by his continued leadership as the Board conducts the robust process of identifying a successor and ensuring a smooth transition,” said Orin C. Smith, independent lead director of the Disney Board.

Otherwise, experts cited industry executives who all seemed happy in their respective jobs, such as NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke. Under the leadership of Iger, who turned 66 on Feb. 10, Disney has done well. The company has said that total shareholder return during his tenure has been nearly twice that of other entertainment conglomerates.

Iger’s latest extension marks a change of mind for the executive. He originally planned to step down as Disney CEO in 2015 after running the company for a decade. But he extended and then did so again a year later.

Back then, he said about his plans to depart in mid-2018, “I really mean it.” Succession at Disney seems a perpetually thorny going back decades when Jeffrey Katzenberg and Michael Ovitz each jockeyed to take over from Michael Eisner. When Eisner finally stepped down in 2005 it was under such strenuous conditions that even Roy E. Disney, the founder’s nephew, was publicly attacking him.

From The Hollywood Reporter

Disney Increases Stake in Disneyland Paris, Offers to Buy Rest

Walt Disney Co. plans to take full ownership of its ailing theme park in Paris to get the resort under control after 25 years of ups and downs at its first and only outlet in Europe.

Disney is acquiring a 9 percent stake in Euro Disney SCA from Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding Co. for 2 euros ($2.13) a share, payable in Disney stock. That will give it an 85.7 percent holding, and it’s offering the same price in cash for the rest, according to a statement Friday. The offer is 67 percent higher than Euro Disney’s closing price Thursday.

Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger is doubling down on the troubled resort, which has already been bailed out by Disney more than once. Hurt by sputtering European economies in recent years, the park’s finances were further hit by the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks and challenging business conditions that continued through 2016.

Disney said it will support Euro Disney’s recapitalization of as much as 1.5 billion euros. That follows a 2014 rescue package, when the resort was pledged at least 1 billion euros over 10 years to add attractions and spruce up grounds.

The new plan “affords maximum flexibility to shareholders, addresses the group’s financial needs and reflects its ongoing support for the long-term success of Disneyland Paris,” Disney said.

Shares of Euro Disney jumped 66 percent to 1.99 euros at 3:37 p.m. in Paris, giving the company a market value of 1.56 billion euros. Disney added 0.2 percent to $109.66 in New York Friday for a market value of $173 billion.

The investment marks a deeper commitment by Disney to its global theme-parks business. The entertainment giant opened a $5.5 billion resort in Shanghai last June that drew 4 million guests in its first four months, and is creating new attractions based on hit films. Disney is building “Star Wars”-themed lands at its parks in Orlando and Anaheim, California, and is also on schedule to open an “Avatar” attraction at its Animal Kingdom park in Florida in May.

This week, Disney reported a 13 percent gain in theme-park profit to $1.11 billion, buoyed by higher spending at the domestic and international parks, including a Shanghai resort, which opened in June. Profit at the theme-park division topped earnings from businesses including the cable-TV unit, home to ESPN and the Disney Channel, and its film arm.

The Paris resort’s history includes several financing maneuvers as it has struggled to match the popularity of Disney’s U.S. theme parks. In 2012, Euro Disney consolidated debt from a number of banks into a loan from the Disney company. Prince Alwaleed bought a 10 percent stake in Euro Disney in a refinancing in 1994, two years after its opening.

Euro Disney’s board has expressed its support for Disney’s plan. The board’s audit committee, comprised of independent members, is recommending an expert to deliver a fairness opinion about the offer.

From Bloomberg

5 Theories on Thomas Staggs’ Abrupt Departure

An awkward pall hung over the April 4 premiere of Disney’s The Jungle Book reboot. Hours before CEO Bob Iger, 65, walked the red carpet in Hollywood, the company had revealed that his heir apparent, COO Thomas Staggs, 55, will step down. The move, which left many at the premiere shocked, threw a carefully choreographed succession plan into disarray as Iger’s contract expires in June 2018. Disney isn’t talking, but insiders and observers have theories.

Here are five:

1. Sheryl Sandberg wants the job

The Facebook COO has served on Disney’s board since 2009 and, according to some, has made it known she would like a CEO position that likely never will become available at Mark Zuckerberg’s company. While Sandberg, 46, lacks traditional Hollywood experience, she is savvy in digital media, which could be crucial as Disney faces a declining cable business.

2. Staggs lost the board

Some insiders say Disney board members ultimately believed Staggs, who came from the company’s parks division, lacks the creative experience in TV or film needed as CEO. “This would speak to the Disney board’s view of the importance of these businesses,” says Macquarie Group analyst Tim Nollen.

3. There’s an internal candidate

Many have focused on the possibility that Disney will look outside the company for a new leader (Chase Carey? Steve Burke?). But there are internal contenders, too. Bob Chapek, 57, who replaced Staggs atop the parks unit and once ran consumer products, is considered an Iger favorite, as is Ben Sherwood, promoted in 2015 from running ABC News to co-chairman of Disney Media Networks. Sherwood, 52, certainly has creative experience.

4. Staggs took the fall for Iger’s frustration

Running parks from 2010 to 2015, Staggs was the primary executive on Disney’s Shanghai resort, one of Iger’s key legacies. Disney and its China partners had planned to open the $5.5 billion park by the end of 2015, but they pushed it to June, when portions reportedly still will be unfinished. In addition, Disney’s parks division was the source of a major PR flap when it allegedly laid off 250 tech workers at its Orlando resorts in 2015 and replaced them with foreign workers using H-1B visas. Some of those laid off are suing, which is said to have enraged Iger.

5. Iger just wants to stay

It could be that simple. Iger’s post-Disney plan was set to include helping build an NFL stadium in Southern California for both the Raiders and Chargers, and he’d have an ownership stake in one. But the NFL rejected the proposal in favor of a rival plan, leaving Iger with one fewer option after he’s through running Disney.

From The Hollywood Reporter

 

Disney Chairman And CEO Bob Iger Says New ‘Indiana Jones’ Movie “Will Be Coming”

Indiana Jones

It can’t be underestimated how much change Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger has brought to the company. During his tenure at the mouse house, the company has acquired Pixar, Marvel, and of course, Lucasfilm, and turned the movie studio into one of the most powerful in Hollywood. So needless to say, he had a lot to talk about when he sat down with Bloomberg for a half-hour conversation. And while much of the conversation was on the potential of “Star Wars,” the broader landscape of the company when it comes to television, theme parks, and more, there’s one little nugget that stood out.

Chatting about the what’s on the horizon for Lucasfilm properties, Iger talked about upcoming “Star Wars” sequels, adding, “and ‘Indiana Jones,’ by the way, which will be coming.”

Earlier this year, a 2018 release date was rumored for a potential new “Indiana Jones” movie, Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford have been pretty open about reuniting, and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy has also suggested the whip will be cracked again.

For now, it seems something that’s definitely being talked about in the halls of Disney, and hopefully more official word will arrive soon.

From The Playlist

Disney Chairman and CEO Robert Iger Enters ‘Broadcasting & Cable’ Hall of Fame

Bob Iger

For 25 years, the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame has served as a gold standard within the broadcast industry, honoring the outstanding individuals whose influence will continue to be felt for generations to come. We’re proud that this year—the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame’s 25th anniversary—The Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Robert A. Iger has joined this extraordinary group of pioneers, visionaries and stars of the electronic arts.

Mr. Iger, whose career began at ABC in 1974, was honored for his stewardship of The Walt Disney Company and his strategic vision focused on generating the best creative content possible, fostering innovation and utilizing the latest technology and expanding into new markets around the world. Mr. Iger officially joined the Disney senior management team in 1996 as Chairman of the Disney-owned ABC Group, where he oversaw the broadcast television network and station group, cable television properties, and radio and publishing businesses and also guided the complex merger between Capital Cities/ABC, Inc. and The Walt Disney Company. During Mr. Iger’s years with ABC, he obtained hands-on experience in every aspect of the television business—including news, sports, and entertainment—as well as in program acquisition, rights negotiations, and business affairs.

“I was lucky enough to know what I wanted to do at a very early age—thanks to watching the nightly news every single night with my parents. And I decided I wanted to be Walter Cronkite,” Mr. Iger said at the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame Awards last night in New York City. “I eventually grew out of that—somewhere during my fourth or fifth month as a weatherman in Ithaca, New York. After making it through one winter, I figured I’d had enough experience giving people bad news and shifted my career goals… smartly. But, I never outgrew my fascination for television—which remains such a powerful storytelling medium in the world, even in this era of such vast change.”

Disney Legend Frank Gifford, who passed away August 9, was also honored with Broadcasting & Cable’s Lifetime Achievement Award. “He was an exceptional man who is missed by everyone who had the joy of seeing his talent on the field, the pleasure of watching his broadcasts, or the honor of knowing him,” Mr. Iger said.

Nearly 400 professionals have been inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame to date. The 2015 Hall of Fame class includes:

• Ed Carroll—COO, AMC Networks, Inc.

• Michael T. Fries—president and CEO, Liberty Global

• Don Garber—commissioner, Major League Soccer; CEO, Soccer United Marketing

• Chris Geraci—president of National Broadcast, OMD

• Kathie Lee Gifford—cohost, fourth hour of NBC’s Today

• Robert A. Iger—chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company

• Lou LaTorre—president, advertising sales, Fox Cable Networks (Retired)

• Alfred C. Liggins III—chairman and CEO, TV One

• Philip J. Lombardo—CEO, Citadel Communications Company, L.P.

• Dave Lougee—president, Tegna Media

• Dr. Phil McGraw—host and executive producer, Dr. Phil

• Donna Speciale—president, Turner Broadcasting Ad Sales

– See more at: https://thewaltdisneycompany.com/blog/disney-chairman-and-ceo-robert-iger-enters-%E2%80%98broadcasting-cable%E2%80%99-hall-fame#sthash.MlOQL4jW.dpuf

Disney to Launch Subscription Streaming Service in U.K.

Tom Hanks as Woody and Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear in "Toy Story"

 

Disney is to launch next month a subscription streaming service in the U.K., which will offer its movies, television series, books and music direct to the consumer online.

The service, DisneyLife, will make available a wide range of titles, including the complete Pixar catalog, which includes the “Toy Story” franchise, and classics such as “Snow White,” “Lady and the Tramp” and “The Jungle Book,” the Financial Times reported Wednesday. DisneyLife will cost £9.99 ($15.43) a month.

“This is the future, in many respects,” said Bob Iger, Disney’s chief executive. “We’re seeing more and more opportunities to reach consumers directly and not through middlemen, and we’re seeing consumers wanting product in different ways.”

Disney will roll out the service across Europe next year, with the aim of launching in France, Spain, Italy and Germany. There are no plans to launch the service in the U.S., but Iger would not rule it out. “The technology platform that this sits on is scalable to the U.S. and is scalable to our other brands,” he said. Netflix has pay TV window rights to Disney theatrical releases for the U.S., kicking in at the end of next year, and Canada, starting with 2015 theatrical releases.

New content will be added to DisneyLife as it becomes available. Movies produced by Marvel and the Lucasfilm “Star Wars” franchise will not be included, but “Star Wars” and Marvel subscription services could be launched in the future, Iger said.

Iger saw apps, not linear television, as the future. “There’s a general sense that the world is going in this direction,” he said. “There will be multichannel TV and we will be part of it, but the app experience offers many more layers (and) much more richness in content than a channel, where one program follows another program.”

He added: “There’s so much more texture to (using the app) and it takes advantage of what technology is enabling these days — whereas a linear channel doesn’t. There’s nothing wrong with linear television but that’s one of the reasons why the app experience is going to grow.”

From Variety