This Week in Disney Headlines for June 5, 2021
This past week, we learned about the largest sinkhole in Florida, Cruella’s nods to 101 Dalmatians, and Disney’s theatrical release plans.
The Disney Headlines for June 4th run the gamut.
Welcome to Cruella Week!
Cruella came out last week, and I loooooved it! I hadn’t heard good things from friends in the industry, and close friends gave the movie only a modest recommendation.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I started watching and fell in love with the visuals and exuberant spirit of the film.
While Cruella stands on its own as a villainess origin story, the plot ties back to 101 Dalmatians more often than you may realize.
In fact, Insider has compiled a list of 12 different times that Cruella pays tribute to 101 Dalmatians!
My favorite is one I didn’t even realize before reading the list. Roger’s home in Cruella represents a live-action recreation of the animated set from 101 Dalmatians!
In news of the less great, costume designer Jenny Beavan isn’t happy about something that happened after her work on Cruella had finished.
Disney designed an entire merchandise line based on Beavan’s worth…without consulting her.
Other costume designers have taken up Beavan’s cause, noting that they rarely receive any form of merchandising compensation for their work.
From Beavan’s perspective, she created many of the jaw-dropping outfits that Cruella sports throughout the movie.
Disney has sold apparel that plays on these designs, yet she won’t receive a dime from them. It’s not great, and hopefully, Disney does something here.
Perhaps the oddest Cruella-related story hearkens back to the original 101 Dalmatians production, though.
The Smithsonian (!) of all places has written a fascinating story about how Disney innovated by using Xerox technology on 101 Dalmatians.
Yes, some maintain that the technical advances of Xerox copies saved Disney animation!
The Pride Month Lawsuit
To hear some tell it, The Walt Disney Company has veered too far toward woke culture and tolerance.
However, at least two people hit Disney from the other side. A lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court accuses the company of treating a worker poorly.
According to the complaint, Joel Hopkins complained to Human Resources on numerous occasions about his poor treatment.
Hopkins claims that Disney passed him over for promotions repeatedly, even as he eventually earned the title of VP of Production Finance for ABC Signature Studios.
Most recently, Disney and ABC promoted people in April of 2021. Hopkins feels that he deserved a new title and, presumably, a pay increase.
When that didn’t happen, the worker argued that Disney held his sexual orientation against him in evaluating candidates.
Here’s the important text from the 10-page filing:
“After his sexual orientation became known to his superiors and after being discriminated against and put on a dead-end career track and repeatedly denied promotions with no remedy or relief from HR, Plaintiff is informed and believes that yet again, in or around April 2021, several promotions occurred, but Plaintiff once again was not promoted.”
The other anti-Disney tweet on the first day of Pride month involved a decision from March:
— Tristan Cooper (@TristanACooper) June 2, 2021
Disney’s main Twitter account published a lovely graphic with an inclusive message. This individual assailed Disney for canceling a project.
Frankly, I thought this one was an ill-informed cheap shot. Disney shut down an entire production house, the former Blue Sky Studios it had acquired from Fox.
All the projects in development there died, including Nimona, potentially the first animated Disney movie “to showcase queer lead characters.”
Technically, it was a Fox project, one of several Disney didn’t believe was worth continuing.
Disney Hospitals, Sinkholes, and Prices
Disney recently committed $100 million to improve children’s hospitals across the country.
One such facility, New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in Manhattan, has unveiled Disney’s new contributions.
Highlights include wall-sized murals, Disney toys, and doctors with Disney character name tags. Here’s a similar video from Disney:
And here’s a story from ABC7 that includes a video of the new Manhattan upgrades.
Now, let’s change course and talk about a TikTok user’s desperate yet successful attempt to go viral:
I know this story sounds wild, but Marty Sklar anecdotally confirmed it during a presentation for EPCOT’s 30th anniversary.
Apparently, park officials couldn’t decide what to do about the sinkhole. So, they leaned into it by creating World Showcase Lagoon.
Here’s the applicable quote:
“One of the reasons there’s so much space between Future World and the World Showcase lagoon is that we discovered a gigantic sink hole near where the Odyssey Restaurant is. We couldn’t build anything on top of it.”
Disney’s eventual solution involved a series of steel plates topping the sinkhole, which now effectively splits the World Showcase from Future World.
If not for that sinkhole, EPCOT might have many more attractions! Personally, I prefer the current split, though.
I mentioned Insider earlier. Here’s the moment where that publication turns heel. It received plenty of attention for a recent poll.
Insider asked guests whether Disney parks have gotten too expensive.
The site performed a small poll on Survey Monkey, and its three percent margin of error reflects its questionable accuracy.
Still, nearly half of respondents said they weren’t visiting parks this year due to pricing, not safety concerns.
So, that information includes good news and bad news for Disney. People aren’t worried about COVID-19 concerns anymore, just the hit to the wallet.
The Disney Movie Plan
Finally, we’ve got one more headline to address this week. Disney has confirmed its release schedule for two upcoming releases.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Free Guy will both debut exclusively in theaters. They won’t go day-and-date on Disney+.
Given Cruella’s struggles to date, this approach makes sense.
Samba TV emailed me some data that suggests Cruella didn’t do as well as Raya and the Last Dragon.
In watching Disney+ Trending stats this week, that evaluation appears correct. The film also wasn’t a strong box office performer.
As such, Disney will continue its delicate balance of picking and choosing theatrical/streaming strategies.
So, with Shang-Chi and Free Guy, theater owners will enjoy an exclusive 45-day window for these releases before Disney makes them available for streaming.
Meanwhile, Jungle Cruise and Black Widow will retain the joint release strategy.
I infer from these decisions that Disney believes normalcy will return by August. However, we probably cannot put the genie back in the bottle on streaming.
Some guests will always prefer watching Disney titles at home rather than going to theaters. The popcorn’s cheaper in your kitchen.