Just read this in PJ Media (link)
Reports of Disney’s Death Are (Not?) an Exaggeration
Stephen Green | 5:11 PM on November 27, 2023
As Disney’s two-time CEO Bob Iger prepares to host the company’s annual town hall on Tuesday to provide “hints or guidance for what the next phase of ‘building’ will bring after the problem-solving phase,” it’s time to ask if Iger is able “to ‘quiet things down’ after years of culture wars.”
The first quote comes from a Hollywood Reporter item on Monday detailing the company’s Wall Street woes. Traders and managers will be watching Iger on Tuesday for “possible color, body language or even outright updates on various topics,” ranging from the company’s ongoing series of box office flops to troubles at their fabled theme parks.
The second quote is courtesy of Jonathan Turley. His Monday column — almost in time for Adam Smith’s 300th birthday — shows how Smith’s “invisible hand” has undone the company’s woke agenda. Disney is now “negatively associated with activism by a significant number of consumers,” Turley writes, and is “even reporting a decline in licensing revenue from products associated with Star Wars, Frozen, Toy Story and Mickey and Friends — iconic and once-unassailable corporate images.”
“Wish” is Disney’s latest animated effort that isn’t a sequel or reboot and it opened over the long Thanksgiving weekend to middling reviews and worse box office sales. Well, not entirely not a reboot — one of the characters is the glowy Star, as in Pinocchio’s “When You Wish Upon A Star.” “Wish” looks to be another big money-loser in a yearlong series of them, including “Indiana Jones and the Whatever McGuffin,” “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” the live-action Little Mermaid, and most recently, “The Marvels.”
The Disney+ streaming service is losing money and eyeballs. Impressions — the streaming measure of viewership — is down 14% from last year, the company says.
The worst news is that Disney’s intellectual properties — the company’s seed corn for future growth — are in terrible shape.
The good news is that $7.5 billion in cost-cutting measures have restored some sense to the company’s balance sheet. The bad news is that the maintenance-heavy Disney World and Disney Land are reportedly looking a little worse for wear. Or as Wall Street’s Jamie Lumley warned, “As the business looks to slash costs and make streaming profitable, there are sure to be concerns about cutting too deep and impacting the business going forward.”
But the company can’t cut its way to health. It needs to start selling tickets again to the kinds of movies and theme park experiences people expect when they see the Disney label.
Walt Disney and his brother Roy were jealous guardians of the Disney name and reputation. Given so many more recent changes, this seems like much longer ago than 1983, but I’m reminded of “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” It was considered a Very Big Deal at the time when Disney produced a Ray Bradbury film with such a dark mood and storyline. At the time — Walt had died and Roy was no longer involved in day-to-day operations — Disney was looking to branch out from family fare like the Herbie movies and “Pete’s Dragon.”
Results were mixed at best, and I’m being overly generous.
It took a 1984 hostile takeover attempt and a long-term recovery plan courtesy of incoming CEO Michael Eisner to restore Disney’s luster. Eisner understood Disney’s creative strength — and it wasn’t in jumping on the Star Wars bandwagon with “The Black Hole,” or another cheesy Love Bug movie.
It was in getting back to classic animation with “The Little Mermaid,” and in recognizing similar strength in the fledgling Pixar Animation Studios.
Iger can cut costs but, in the end, what he needs to do is remember what the Disney brand means — and work as furiously to restore it as Eisner did, and as Walt and Roy used to work to protect it.
Unless we see evidence of that in Tuesday’s town hall, Disney shares might be up a bit on Wall Street’s hopes but I ain’t buying.