Disney Execs Talk Quality Over Quantity, Plug Parks At Town Hall – Upnewsdaily

Disney Execs Talk Quality Over Quantity, Plug Parks At Town Hall – Upnewsdaily

Disney’s anticipated all staff town hall has ended with no major announcements but CEO Bob Iger and top execs stressing a commitment to quality over quantity as the studio’s film slate has had a bumpy ride.

No news on strategic partners for ESPN, but the sports juggernaut is still on track for a 2025 streaming launch, according to town hall attendees. Parks are a bright spot and were front and center.

Appearing on stage for a roughly hour town hall at New York City’s New Amsterdam theater, Iger, alongside ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro, Disney Theme Parks President Josh Damaro, and Disney Entertainment co-Chairs Dana Walden and Alan Bergman, continued to emphasize a similar narrative from the latest earnings earlier this month.  

It was all “grounds to be optimistic” was one Disney attendee characterized the town hall.   

Pitaro reiterated plans for ESPN hitting its 2025 goal to be direct-to-consumer.  

Meanwhile, Walden emphasized how the combined Hulu and Disney+ one-app experience will be in beta testing later this month, with plans for a full rollout in March.   

Pom poms were waved on theme park side with Damaro emphasizing the $60 billion investment on the experiences side, while underscoring how the parks have rebounded greatly coming out of the pandemic in regards to attendance. The new Frozenland at Hong Kong Disneyland is considered to be success, evidence of how Disney still has the touch when it comes to brining magical experiences to life.  

Bergman emphasized much of the same message that Iger stressed on the earnings call how the studio’s mission in a year of misfires such as Elemental, Wish, The Marvels, and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny will be one of quality over quantity. Great storytelling is the be all and end-all to success, and when it works sends out a positive ripple effect into the theme parks and consumer products. Essentially after the down box office year, Bergman spoke about how it was essential to learn from the company’s shortcomings and move ahead. He expressed excitement for near year’s slate which includes The Omen prequel, a new Planet of the Apes and Deadpool 3 which recently resumed filming post actors’ strike.  

David Muir of ABC News moderated the session.  

Disney’s anticipated all-hands meeting comes as the company faces a multitude of challenges at just over the one-year mark of Iger’s return to the helm. Things were tough then as well but Iger was newly on board to the relief of investors and employees. The big news then was no merger with Apple and no new acquisitions. All true so far, save for the upcoming multi-billion dollar purchase of Comcast’s stake in Hulu.

Iger got to work, unwinding an unpopular corporate structure devised by (his annointed) predecessor Bob Chapek, and would go on to cut 7,000 jobs.

According to sources, Iger struck an optimistic tone and was largely forward-looking in his comments, noting that he is fueled by the creativity in the room and the storytelling.

He talked a lot about being out of the fixing phase and into the building phase of his second tenure at Disney. He spoke how, after a lot of work, the company is realizing the value of its linear assets and now the goal is to be able to build on top of them for the future.

Speaking with Muir, Iger shared how much he loves ABC News and everything the ABC News team does.

Walden spoke about how Hulu and ABC audiences are complimentary and not duplicative and how meaningful it is to be able to meet audiences where they are. She noted that the median age of broadcast viewer is 60+ while on Hulu/streaming, it’s 30+, so when you combine that, you can reach a massive audience of different ages.

The example she gave was ABC’s breakout new reality hit The Golden Bachelor, which has been attracting large viewership on both the broadcast network and on Hulu.

Both Iger and Walden talked about the One App experience launching in March and how great it’s going to be for Disney’s general entertainment titles to be on the app alongside its branded content.

Muir joked that The Golden Bachelor and The Bear would be able to reside next to World News Tonight. The Golden Bachelor was a running theme, providing levity to the proceedings, with audience members trying hard to get the scoop on who had won Gerry’s heart but they were asked to tune in on Thursday.

More to come…

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