Disney Headlines for July 16, 2021
Wow, Disney REALLY got people talking this past week.
Some employees are switching zip codes…and coasts. Many Black Widow fans stayed home, which was just fine with Disney. And Standby Pass has proven disastrous so far.
Let’s talk about the past week in Disney Headlines, some of which were legitimate game-changers.
Next Stop, Lake Nona!
Back in January, I discussed one of the hottest Disney rumors at the time. Some business insiders had heard that Disney wanted to change coasts.
Obviously, a multinational conglomerate cannot hole up in a single location.
Disney owns and operates five theme parks and licenses a sixth. Then, there’s the entertainment division, which includes films, TV, and streaming.
Obviously, with that many entities, corporate offices will exist around the world. Still, Disney’s roots have evolved from the Hollywood start.
When Walt Disney purchased tens of thousands of acres of land in Central Florida, he chose the place where the company would plant roots for future generations.
Well, we’ve reached a point where many of Disney’s most significant core businesses reside in the south.
Specifically, Marvel has all but taken over a portion of the greater Atlanta area and is actually building entire neighborhoods in Georgia.
Roughly 400 miles southeast of Atlanta, Orlando’s Walt Disney World campus represents the anchor of Disney operations.
Unsurprisingly, Disney has emphasized this section of the country, which is more business-friendly than California.
You undoubtedly recall Disney’s battles with Anaheim’s City Council, along with California’s Governor.
The company doesn’t like Florida’s Governor any better – who honestly likes politicians? – but Disney makes the laws in and around Walt Disney World.
Understandably, with Hollywood losing power in a post-streaming entertainment industry, Florida has seemed more appealing.
So, Disney finally acknowledged the obvious this week. The company will ask “at least 2,000 professional employees” to relocate to Lake Nona, Florida.
Disney Parks leader Josh D’Amaro indicated that the move allows Disney to “consolidate our teams and be more collaborative and impactful both from a creative and operational standpoint.”
These workers will have 18 months to move, although many of them will decline, choosing to remain in Southern California.
Black Widow Dominates
After more than 18 months away from movie theaters, the Marvel Cinematic Universe finally made its triumphant comeback!
The oft-delayed Black Widow finally gained its theatrical debut long after its original May 2020 release date.
Suffice to say that audiences were jacked about the prospect of a post-Endgame film!
Black Widow earned more than $100 million during its first six days in North American release, making it the fastest pandemic title to cross that milestone.
The film has also earned more than $200 million worldwide, which is sadly one of the most successful Hollywood performances since the start of the COVID-19 era.
However, that’s not the industry-shaking aspect of the story. During its first 30 hours in theaters, Black Widow grossed $39.5 million.
The film managed only $40.9 million on its first Saturday and Sunday, falling well short of expectations. What changed?
Well, people chose to watch the film at home instead. As a result, for the first time ever, Disney+ reported its Premier Access revenue for Black Widow.
The movie grossed $60 million via Disney+ purchases, which brings the total opening weekend revenue to $140 million.
That total bears a bit more examination, though. As I’ve discussed several times on my podcast, Streaming into the Void, Disney does much better digitally.
With box office revenue, Disney splits earnings with the movie theater, especially on day-and-date releases like Black Widow.
While the film grossed $80 million domestically, Disney’s cut is closer to $56 million.
Disney+ represents an elite version of vertical integration wherein Disney maintains most of the earnings.
A $60 million performance there could feasibly bring back $50 million in actual net revenue.
Folks, Black Widow just proved that Disney doesn’t need movie theaters, and Hollywood is understandably freaked out about it!
The Perils of FastPass Changes
One of the stories we’re tracking at MickeyBlog involves Disney’s silence regarding the future of FastPass.
While the American parks haven’t made any declarations yet, Disneyland Paris just reset theme parks to 1955 pricing tactics.
Suffice to say that this experiment hasn’t gone well thus far. Now, we should keep in mind that many consumers are angry about the change.
As such, some of these reports aren’t exactly even-handed and fair. Many guests made up their minds after the announcement and will never change their opinions.
Still, the elimination of FastPass has fundamentally changed visitor behavior at Disneyland Paris. Guests now rely on Standby Passes.
Frankly, park officials have spit the bit on this one, as France is still struggling with COVID-19 concerns.
The country’s cases have increased by a factor of 12 (!) over the past month, and another lockdown remains a possibility.
Given this information, the last thing that Disneyland Paris should require is frequent guest/cast member interactions. Weeeell…
— PixieDust (@Pixiedust_be) July 15, 2021
Yeah, that’s not your imagination. Social distancing has flown out the window at Disneyland Paris due to a poor strategy.
Cast members must verify individual Standby Passes before guests can enter the line queue. As one user accurately replied:
"let's solve the covid group issue by making them even more closer"
— Euro DisneyLand Imagineering (@E_D_L_I) July 15, 2021
The optics regarding this situation are absolutely terrible. Charging for each FastPass already created frustration.
Now, Disney has jammed guests together in a tight space to check their Standby Pass access.
To be fair, the news wasn’t all bad, as Standby Pass anecdotally worked well in some instances:
— PixieDust (@Pixiedust_be) July 15, 2021
Still, Disneyland Paris needs to get its act together. Otherwise, the paid FastPass strategy will never recover from its early negative social media buzz.
Let’s finish this week’s Disney Headlines with some fun. For the first time since March of 2020, Pixar will release a movie in theaters.
Sure, we’ll have to wait until March of 2022 for this title, but it looks like it’ll be worth the wait.
Take a look at Turning Red, the next Pixar title:
You gotta hand it to Pixar. They’ve taken the core premise of The Hulk and turned it into an adorable story about the perils of growing up!
I cannot help but think that Turning Red looks like a Kawaii version of Inside Out, and I’m here for it!
What do you think about the trailer? Let us know!
Feature Image: Disney