Disney Headlines for December 16th, 2022
Let’s face facts. The Golden Globes aren’t what they used to be. Still, The Walt Disney Company must feel good about what just happened with this year’s nominations.
We’ll talk about Disney’s awards season candidacy, a potential Universal problem, and those odd Apple rumors in this week’s Disney Headlines.
Disney Leads the Pack
Two years ago, Disney won a rare Best Picture Award at the Academy Awards.
The film in question was Nomadland, directed by Chloe Zhao, who also helmed Eternals for Disney.
The Nomadland victory came with an asterisk, though. Fox Searchlight had acquired distribution rights months before Disney purchased Fox’s assets.
So, Disney technically won Best Picture, but few analysts view the outcome that way.
In 2021, Apple Original Films won Best Picture for CODA, which is stunning since Apple makes phones.
The film company’s early success belies the challenges that longstanding media businesses face in winning Academy Awards.
Now, Disney wants another one, and it’s got the horses to win this race.
Let’s be clear that Disney’s best hope lies with The Banshees of Inisherin.
This film reunites the actors and director from 2008’s In Bruges, a previous awards contender.
The Banshees of Inisherin earned eight Golden Globe nominations including Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.
Currently, odds sites list The Banshees of Inisherin as one of the three or four most likely films to win Best Picture. And I think they’re low.
At this point, I would rank Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans as the leader in the clubhouse with The Banshees of Inisherin right behind it.
I’m a huge proponent of Everything Everywhere All at Once, but it’s waaaaay too weird for most members of the Academy.
Disney also has another potential candidate opening this week. Perhaps you’ve heard about Avatar: The Way of Water?
This sequel earned Best Picture and Best Director nominations as well.
Disney also claimed nods for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Turning Red.
At a minimum, Disney should expect to win Best Original Song and Best Animated Feature this year.
The Golden Globes establish that Disney has strong awards season contenders for 2023.
Strange World and the Universal Question
Well, Disney should probably expect to win Best Animated Feature. In truth, the competition believes that Disney has slipped in recent years.
First, I’ll acknowledge that I find the concept laughable. Disney has earned the Best Animated Feature Oscar nine out of the past ten (!) years. It’s dominant.
Still, an NBCUniversal executive recently bragged that Universal has surpassed Disney animation during the pandemic.
This self-important braggart bases his claim on pandemic box office results, which is akin to calling yourself the greatest hitter on the planet based on what you did in baseball’s 60-game season in 2020.
Still, there is some truth to the fact that Disney’s animated box office is slumping. Yes, the pandemic has caused this problem, but it’s a problem nonetheless.
Since Frozen II’s release in 2019, here’s the list of films that Disney has released under its Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and 20th Century Studios arms:
- Spies in Disguise
- Raya and the Last Dragon
- Ron’s Gone Wrong
- Turning Red
- The Bob’s Burgers Movie
- Strange World
Titles like Soul and Turning Red technically reported box office, but most of it came from international markets that didn’t have Disney+.
Disney’s business strategy throughout the pandemic involved Disney+ debuts for most titles.
Others like Encanto earned truncated releases since most potential movie-goers still weren’t ready to return to theaters.
Then, Disney tried to emphasize the theater experience again with Lightyear and Strange World, one of which disappointed while the other flat-out bombed.
A Strange World Indeed
Now, Disney+ has confirmed that Strange World will debut on December 23rd. And its box office failure does raise the question that has Universal gloating.
Does the quick release of Disney titles on its streaming service diminish the appeal of its theatrical releases?
I’ve got people in Hollywood who will rant on this subject until my ears get sore. Meanwhile, the Wall Street folks swear that Disney+ needs all the help it can get.
I’m genuinely curious how MickeyBlog readers feel about this one because it’s such a challenging topic.
On the one hand, theatrical releases boost awareness for films, some of which become franchises. Disney earns a metric ton of cash from its franchises.
However, the company must spend tens of millions of dollars in marketing expenses for every release, even bombs like Strange World. So, Disney takes on some risk with each title.
Conversely, unveiling new products on Disney+ proves much cheaper to market. Audiences find these titles anyway.
In fact, Strange World will work as a fascinating experiment. Will this title trend on Disney+ despite all the negative buzz caused by its box office failure?
Christmas Week is incredibly competitive on streaming services. For this reason, I don’t expect that sort of performance. It wouldn’t surprise me, though.
Many people in Hollywood still aren’t aware of how successful Encanto has proven because they stopped paying attention once it exited theaters.
That’s no longer the way that the world works. And many analysts have failed to adapt to these revolutionary changes in media consumption.
While we’d all agree that we must watch Avatar 2 in theaters, how many of us feel that way about Strange World? Or even Encanto? What about a Minions movie?
There aren’t easy answers to these questions, but Disney must find some fast.
The Apple/Disney Rumor Heats Up
Okay, I’m trying not to give this rumor any credence. I’ve felt all along that it doesn’t make much sense for either company.
Apple has never been much of a big-ticket buyer, while Disney CEO Bob Iger hasn’t made his career by selling. So, the fit isn’t right here.
Still, an analyst at The Wrap with solid instincts and a decent track record has written a paywalled article about this possibility.
In a discussion about a (wildly unlikely) Comcast purchase of Netflix, the author notes that Tim Cook has his heart set on Disney.
As a reminder, Iger explicitly dismissed such talk during his first town hall a few days ago.
Still, the argument centers on Cook’s desire to make permanent the odd connection between the two companies.
Apple would once again own Pixar, which the company founded but famously sold to Iger. The latter CEO sat on Apple’s Board of Directors for several years.
The author, a successful entrepreneur who has worked at Universal, comments that Disney and Apple’s “shared creative and innovative DNA” make them a natural fit.
Sadly, he’s thinking like a media type who doesn’t understand Disney, though. Specifically, he suggests the following:
“Apple could assuage FTC angst by divesting Disney’s theme park division — and perhaps even ABC Television and ESPN — as conditions of a deal. Apple would have absolutely no interest in operating theme parks anyhow.”
I’ll say what we’re all thinking. Disney without theme parks isn’t Disney at all. So, I don’t buy this speculation, at least not under this logic.
If Apple buys Disney AND somehow gets the FTC to sign off on the deal, the new mega-company will keep its theme parks.
In fact, they’ll become an anchor of Apple’s Web 3.0 strategy. And this deal probably isn’t happening anyway.
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