Iger Offers Reflection on Metaverse, Movies, and More
Just four weeks after his official departure from the Walt Disney Company, former Chairman and CEO Bob Iger gave his first interview recently reflecting on the future of the company, theatres, and much more. In a chat with Kara Swisher of the New York Times for her podcast Sway, Iger candidly spoke about the range of topics, including Big Tech, the Metaverse, and the need for valuing creativity in decision-making.
Bob Iger’s Advice to Hollywood on His Way Out https://t.co/v8RK8GyDX3
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) January 27, 2022
““Because I am not working for Disney I am liberated, I can say anything about anybody,” Iger jokingly said in the interview as quoted by an article in The Hollywood Reporter. Still, he added that “he was reluctant to single anyone out.”
One of the major topics that Iger discussed in Swisher’s podcast was the future of theatrical movie releases. He predicted that more films may reach the big screen with many going straight to streaming services, like Netfilx and Disney+.
“I don’t think it’s the death [of theatrical movies], I think it is a severe injury that maybe doesn’t heal. Not fatal to some. … [Consumers] will be much more discerning about what movies they want to see out of the home,” Iger said in the Sway interview.
Streaming Success Under Iger
Iger specifically calls out Neflix as a platform that “deserve a lot of credit,” according to the interview. “I woke up one day and thought, ‘We are basically selling nuclear weapons technology to a third-world country, and now they are using it against us,'” Iger said in the Sway interview when discussing why Disney took back the rights of the films given to Netflix prior to the creation of Disney+. He specifically mentions the importance of National Geographic, The Simpsons and Avatar as key pieces to Disney+ becoming a success.
Reflecting on the hopes of other Big Tech companies in competing with Disney in the streaming space, Iger told Swisher that he did not think others can keep up with Disney’s story-telling strengths, especially since the company’s acquisition of Fox.
“There is no question that deep-pocketed technology companies, Apple being a great example, Amazon being another, have figured out that if they have great intellectual property, if they tell great stories, it will help their businesses. I don’t want to suggest [Apple and Amazon’s entertainment divisions] are loss-leader businesses, but they are in those businesses for other reasons,” Iger said in the interview with Swisher.
Creating a Responsible Metaverse
Of course, Iger also discussed the importance of the Metaverse, what he calls “Internet 3.0,” and the intellectual property opportunities that come with it as well as the company’s responsibility to maintain a non-toxic metaverse culture.
“I think that Internet 3.0, which will definitely be a more compelling experience, certainly more immersive and dimensional, there will be a lot to that in terms of a future, call it a metaverse. I don’t think there will be one metaverse; it will be dispersed. You may have an avatar, but you can go all over the place, and I think that it is likely to develop into something real as an experience,” Iger told Swisher as quoted in The Hollywood Reporter article.
Iger’s Focus on Creativity Remains
The interview finally touches on a point deep at the heart of many Disney loyal fans these days: the reliance on data-driven decisions perhaps over an emphasis on the creative process. His successor Bob Chapek famously uses data to drive his decision-making.
“If we had tried to mine all the data that we had at the time, to determine whether we should make a superhero movie that was about, essentially, an Afro-futuristic world with a Black cast, the data would have said don’t do that, and Black Panther never would have been made,” Iger says in the podcast in reference to questions regarding his comments at a retreat last June for the Walt Disney Company Board of Directors. The original comments were reported by Kim Masters for The Hollywood Reporter.
As always, the podcast offers and insightful, intelligent, and creatively-inspiring hope for the future of the the film industry, the Metaverse, and the Walt Disney Company from one of its most legendary leaders.
Feature Image Credit: The Wrap