MickeyBlog News for April 6, 2020
In this week’s update, we discuss lovely additions to Disney+, release date plans for several upcoming Disney blockbusters, an unexpected land purchase, and an unfortunate confirmation that Disney theme parks probably won’t re-open in April.
You’ll have to take the highs with the lows in the latest edition of MickeyBlog News.
Disney at the Movies
With little going on at the parks right now, Disney officials utilized some of the downtime to reschedule their movies. The film studio decided to change several release dates for its upcoming blockbusters. Each one caused ripple effects on other titles, and a couple of films are no longer 2020 releases.
You can read the full details here, but here are the headlines. Mulan has taken Jungle Cruise’s previous release date, July 24. Disney has punted the Emily Blunt/Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson film a full year to July 30, 2021.
"Sharing a biz update in the world of entertainment and movies 🎥 🎭
— Jungle Cruise (@JungleCruise) April 3, 2020
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has experienced similar disruptions. Black Widow is back on the calendar with a theatrical release on November 6. That date had gone to The Eternals, which shifted back to February 12, 2021.
President’s Day weekend 2021 had been the previous release date for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. So, that film had to move to Dr. Strange 2’s release date…and so forth.
The other huge news in the fallout from these changes involves Disney+. The service added Onward, a March 6th theatrical release, to its lineup on Friday – and you should be watching it right now if you haven’t yet.
Now, Disney has announced that Artemis Fowl, a $125 million production, will skip theatrical release and head straight to Disney+. It’s a massive get for the service, as Disney had hoped that Artemis Fowl would become a franchise akin to Harry Potter.
That statement may seem outlandish, but the book series is wildly popular. Now, Artemis Fowl must become a big hit on Disney+ to justify a sequel, a bummer for studio execs who had high hopes for the film.
Walt Disney World Keeps Growing
Disney theme parks may be closed right now, but theme park executives are hard at work on building a better tomorrow. Disney recently closed a deal to acquire 26.3 acres of land beside Reedy Lake.
Over the past 18 months, the company has picked up a great deal of land, which had led to hopes for a fifth theme park. Alas, Coronavirus has likely delayed that possibility for several years. Disney still wants the property, though.
If you’re wondering, the new land resides west of Magic Kingdom in an area just northwest of Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course, the one at Shades of Green Resort. Disney reportedly had plans for this land, but like everything else right now, those ideas are now in question.
Okay, Now the Bad News
Let’s start with the bad news before heading to the worse news. Sadly, it’s that kind of week for Disney fans. *sigh*
Disney has announced that all non-essential cast members, the ones who aren’t currently working, will receive furloughs on April 19. I’m happy to report that Disney isn’t acting as monstrously as some other corporations right now. The company will continue to pay for healthcare during the furloughs.
Still, that’s tens of thousands of Central Florida residents who will become unemployed on April 19. Disneyland officials have warned cast members there that similar layoffs are at hand.
So, some of our favorite employees on the planet need the parks to reopen soon. Right before this happened (seriously, minutes before), I’d written an article about challenges Disney will face.
I mentioned cast member training/retraining as a primary concern, and that goes double now. Frustratingly, some longstanding Disney workers won’t wait for their jobs, which just plain sucks.
An interesting subplot here is that some Disney executives have pushed back against a different form of payroll cuts. They correctly feel upset that Bob Iger and Bob Chapek have asked for pay cuts that impact others more than them.
In the most egregious example, Iger won’t give up any of the ancillary income that he receives annually. According to Forbes, those 2019 payments were “$3 million in salary, a $21.8 million bonus, $10 million in stock awards and $9.6 million in stock option.”
So, forgoing his salary sounds nice until we do the math. At that point, it turns out that Iger’s only losing 6.7 percent of his income while other, less highly paid Disney executives are out 20-30 percent.
Finally, Here’s the Worse News
Let’s pull the Band-aid off. Disney parks aren’t reopening in April.
I’d hoped and expected this to happen, but Florida’s governor never released a stay-at-home memorandum in March, waiting until April 2 to make what should have been an obvious call.
As fallout from the delayed reaction, Florida has suffered dramatic infection spread. On March 21, the state registered only 763 infections. As I type this, the total is up to 12,151. By reacting slowly, Florida will, unfortunately, suffer thousands more cases and have steep financial losses, too. That’s how exponential growth patterns work.
Faced with no other choice, Florida governor Ron DeSantis finally announced a stay-at-home for the state. It’ll last for the entire month of April, meaning that Walt Disney World won’t open anytime soon.
I will add that DeSantis has the right to cancel this directive whenever he wants. Should Coronavirus totals suddenly shrink in number, the governor could feasibly allow Florida’s major theme parks to do some prep work.
This tactic may not seem like much. However, if Disney did get to allow construction crews to work on some projects in late-April, the parks could feasibly return in May in better shape than when they left. I’m not saying that will happen, but there are still silver linings out there if things go well.
Of course, the most crucial part is that we’re still more than a week away from the peak of Coronavirus. So, please stay safe and smart, my friends. We all want to be healthy enough to visit the Happiest Place on Earth when it re-opens.