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When you’re the highest-grossing studio in Hollywood, it’s onerous to think about you wouldn’t all the time need to do the factor that you simply’re immensely good at: making motion pictures and exhibiting them in theaters. And but, it’s 2020 and nothing is predictable, and as such, this week Disney introduced plans to—for lack of a greater manner to put it—pivot to streaming, a transfer that might shift your entire panorama for film and TV distribution.
Or perhaps not. You see, below Disney’s new plan, the corporate says it’s trying to streamline its direct-to-consumer enterprise by enlisting a brand new division, the Media and Entertainment Distribution group, to resolve how the content material made by its studios—Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel, and many others.—goes out into the world. Some of these studio choices will nonetheless go to theaters, after all, however CEO Bob Chapek advised CNBC this week, “We are tilting the scale pretty dramatically [toward streaming].” It’s a daring transfer, and one which exhibits simply how huge an affect outfits like Netflix have made on Hollywood. But it is not a transfer that each different studio is probably going to mimic, nor ought to they. Why? They’re not Disney.
Reading Monday’s information concerning the new plan on the Mouse House, the very first thing that sprung to my thoughts was my colleague Brian Barrett’s story concerning the 2019 launch of the corporate’s streaming service. Titled “Disney+ Is Here—and It’s a Fully Formed Streaming Juggernaut,” the piece laid out all of the methods the corporate was getting into the streaming wars with a a lot bigger regiment than any of its rivals. Not solely does Disney have a again catalog of animated household classics in addition to Star Wars and a whole superhero group, it additionally has Fox, ESPN, and National Geographic. Apple TV+ didn’t have something shut to that when it launched. HBO Max had the Home Box Office coffers, in addition to these of WarnerMedia—together with Friends—when it went stay, however even these choices appear paltry in contrast to every thing at Disney’s fingertips.
It’s this agility, introduced to bear by sheer quantity, that Disney has in spades. Sure, different studios may shuffle extra of their presumed theatrical releases into streaming (see the success NBCUniversal had with sending Trolls World Tour straight to VOD), however with theaters remaining closed due to considerations over Covid-19, most have opted to push again their launch dates. Disney delayed a few of its superhero tentpoles like Black Widow, but it surely had no downside dropping Mulan on Disney+ and is planning to debut Pixar’s new film, Soul, on the streaming service as nicely. At the time, Mulan‘s launch was seen as a one-off, and never a super launch for the movie, but it surely was a reminder that Disney can burn off a title right here and there and nonetheless stay forward. Movies produced by the studio accounted for some 33 p.c of the entire US field workplace in 2019—38 p.c if you happen to embrace motion pictures from Fox, which Disney acquired that yr. The firm’s closest competitor, Warner Bros., solely accounted for about 14 p.c of that very same market. Add in the truth that its huge franchises have large pipelines of tasks within the works, and it is easy to see how Disney may shift a number of extra titles to streaming and nonetheless keep forward of it rivals. Conversely, contemplating that Warner Bros. wanted two motion pictures—Joker and It Chapter Two—to add up to the field workplace take of 1 Lion King, it is also straightforward to see why any studio not named Disney can be reticent to ship any of its options straight to streaming.