Disney Continues Success Streak, Only Marred By Dark Phoenix And Theme Park Revenues

Merchandise sales at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge helped offset the dip in park attendance. (Photo: Disney Parks)

We’re not even through with the third quarter of the year and Walt Disney Studios has already grossed a record-breaking $12 billion at the international box office. And yet, even with that, 2019 hasn’t been a total win for one of the largest media brands in the world.

Disney CEO Bob Iger had an earnings call today and detailed a bunch of what’s going on at the company. After the expensive, and very drawn out, acquisition of Fox, Disney inherited several movies which resulted in a lost of about $US130 ($192) million. Primary among those failures was the X-Men movie Dark Phoenix.

Iger said he believed the whole acquisition process killed morale and momentum at the studio and it’ll take Disney at least two years to get things back on track. He referred to properties like Deadpool, X-Men, and Fantastic Four as part of Marvel Studios but believes, from now on, Fox’s live-action slate will be “a select group of high quality movies” for release in theatres as well as on Hulu and Disney+.

Among the titles mentioned as possible reboots for Disney+? Home Alone, Diary of the Wimpy Kid, Cheaper by the Dozen, and Night at the Museum. We’ll have to see how that plays out.

At its U.S. theme parks, revenues were down thanks in large part to the increased cost of getting the Star Wars themed land, Galaxy’s Edge, ready for opening. Plus, Iger suggested the hype around the opening scared away many season pass holders from visiting.

Similarly, at Orlando’s Walt Disney World, the company believes summer visitations were impacted by people waiting for Galaxy’s Edge to open later this month. However, some of those losses were covered by increased ticket prices and a boom in merchandise and food sales, which is also likely driven by Galaxy’s Edge. In fact, at Disneyland and Disney World, attendance was down 3 per cent, but per-guest spending was up 10 per cent. Thank you, custom lightsabers.

Next up for Disney is its D23 Expo later this month in Anaheim, California. There, the company will finally unveil just what the Disney+ streaming service looks like and will offer Disney fans the chance to be among the first to sign up. While the company had previously reported a price point of about $12 per month, the company just announced a new bundle for the U.S. which will include Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu with ads for $US13 ($19) per month.

In addition to all the original content, on the November 12 launch of Disney+ there will be about 300 movie titles, including four from Marvel Studios, eight Star Wars movies, and 18 Pixar films. So, no, not everything will be on there. Within a year though, that number should jump up to 400. Iger also said to expect Disney+ deals to be announced soon with Apple, Amazon, and Google+.

It was a very, very busy and packed earnings call for a company with a lot going on. The main takeaway though, as usual, was that Disney has its fingers in everything, and that’s not changing for a long time.

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