7 Things You Should Know About Disney’s Future Plans
When Robert Iger, the CEO of The Walt Disney Company, holds his quarterly conference calls, he is renowned for his honesty. He’ll often reveal previously unknown plans for the company. His recent discussion was one of the most informative yet. Here are seven things we just learned about Disney’s future plans.
The Resistance Will Rise This Year!
Let’s start with theme park news. Some critics and alarmists worried when Disney delayed the opening of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. While park officials calmly described the situation at Star Wars Land as a multi-phase process, some folks worried that the attraction was in trouble. To some, any missed deadline is indicative of a behind-the-scenes struggle.
Iger squashed such concerns during the conference call. He unequivocally stated that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will open in 2019. Since he left no wiggle room, he’s clearly confident that the attraction is only months away from completion.
As previously indicated on MickeyBlog, the belief is that Disney saw no reason to wait on a single ride for a couple of months when the rest of Star Wars Land is so dazzling. Instead, they’ll earn two more months’ worth of revenue from the new place while they perfect Rise of the Resistance. It’s just good business sense.
Tokyo Disneyland’s Expansion Will Start Soon
The Oriental Land Company is about to spend $2.3 billion on an expansion at Tokyo Disneyland Resort. Much of this work will occur at Tokyo DisneySea, already one of the most magnificent theme parks on the planet. While Disney doesn’t technically have any responsibility for this project, the two companies work closely on all significant projects.
Iger revealed that the start of this massive park improvement is only days away. He stated that park officials will break ground on May 21st. It’ll have a mini-themed land section for Frozen, Peter Pan, and Tangled plus a ride based on Baymax from Big Hero 6. Most importantly to Disney fans, it’ll also be home to this spectacular looking Beauty and the Beast ride.
Since Disney and The Oriental Land Company are different entities, they don’t always have identical rides. The prevailing belief is that some of the new attractions at Tokyo Disneyland could make their way to American parks, though.
Even Bob Iger Can’t Tell Leaks from Rumors These Days
The same irregularity played out twice during the conference call. At one point, Disney stated that they weren’t ready to reveal the next phase of titles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as Marvel employees wanted that honor. Without missing a beat, the person added that the information was available online if listeners wanted to google it. It’s the equivalent of saying, “We can’t confirm anything about that accurate list of films published online.”
Disney did this twice. The second one is more relevant to theme park fans. In recent days, blueprints for a Marvel attraction were posted online. They showed the full structure of a Spider-Man ride (!) at Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris.
Iger not only referenced those blueprints but stated the following: ““I think actually I saw an image online recently of a design concept, but I don’t know whether that was leaked or not.” That’s as close as he could possibly come to saying that many leaks these days are coming from inside the Mouse House. This ride wasn’t even officially announced until March!
We’ve reached a point where Disney’s top officials can’t even tell whether they’re posting blueprints online by design or someone within the company is doing so on their own. We’ll have a lot more about this attraction in our monthly rumors article for June, so keep coming back to MickeyBlog for updates!
Avengers: Endgame Is a Part of Disney+
The climactic film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s current phase is a blockbuster for the ages. Avengers: Endgame has already become the second-most-successful global release ever…and it’s only been in theaters for three weekends.
Disney executives had boasted a while ago that Avengers: Endgame would become a part of Disney+ at some point. As a reminder, this service is an over-the-top (OTT) streaming channel that will cost $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year. It’s being described as either a Netflix competitor or Netflix killer, depending on whom you ask.
Since Avengers: Endgame is sure to become the most successful home video release of 2019, nobody reasonably expected the film to stream on Disney+ in 2019. To everyone’s surprise, that’s precisely what will happen.
Iger announced that Avengers: Endgame will be available on Disney+ on December 11th, only one month after the service debuts. Since a Blu-Ray costs $20-$30, you can save yourself some cash now by not buying Avengers: Endgame on disc and use that cash for Disney+ at the end of the year!
Disney Bought a Better Disney+ Experience for Users
To become a real Netflix competitor, Disney+ needs a vast content library. While the recent purchase of former Fox movie and television assets helps a lot, Iger and his team still worried about their content offerings. To guarantee the best possible lineup, these executives “bought” some Disney content back from other OTT services.
You may wonder why Disney would need to gain the rights to Disney content. What happens is that Disney licenses many of their intellectual properties to other companies. A great example is Netflix, which has distribution rights for classics like Lilo & Stitch, Avengers: Infinity War, and The Incredibles 2. Effectively, Netflix has purchased the ability to air this content on their service.
Disney has countless deals of this nature. The problem that they faced was that they’d sold exclusive licensing rights in several instances. Those movies and television shows weren’t available for Disney to stream on its own upcoming service.
So, Disney evaluated which products would add value to Disney+ and quietly bought back the streaming rights for these titles. It’s a wonderful way to make the introductory Disney+ lineup the best one possible. Iger commented that they’d plotted the November opening of the OTT service around the rights expirations of several major titles. They’d apparently eyed this timeframe for several years now, indicative of how much forethought Iger has placed into the launch of Disney+.
National Geographic Will Have a Park Presence
Disney was dodgy on the specifics here, but there was no mistaking Iger’s joy over owning the National Geographic brand now. He indicated that National Geographic merchandise is coming to the parks. He didn’t give any indication about a timeline, but my guess is that they’ll have something later this year.
The more tantalizing option requires a bit of reading of tea leaves. Without coming out and saying so, Iger seemed to hint that Adventures by Disney will have some National Geographic tie-ins down the line. Since many of these trips occur at the same exotic locations championed in National Geographic, the connection seems like destiny.
Bob Iger Loves The Simpsons
I don’t have anything specific to discuss here, but I’m including this one anyway. The reason why is that Iger and his team randomly referenced The Simpsons three times during the conference call. That’s more than they talked about Star Wars!
Clearly, Disney has huge plans for this brand, presumably in the merchandising department. I struggle to see how Disney could do a lot in the parks with The Simpsons brand. Universal Studios purchased licensing rights to these characters in perpetuity before Disney bought them.
That contract stands even if Disney wants The Simpsons for their own theme park attractions. Springfield is a part of Universal Studios Florida AND Universal Studios Hollywood. So, Disney couldn’t even do something at Disney California Adventure, the strategy that they’ve employed with Marvel characters whose rights Universal has also licensed.
Iger obviously has something planned, though. Could it be the long-rumored The Simpsons Movie sequel? Here’s hoping…