Disney is doing the dance of “we need to cut costs” and “cutting content” amid two historic strikes from the Screen Actor’s Guild and the Writer’s Guild of America. According to a new interview with CEO Bob Iger (who just got a contract extension), they’re going to slow down when it comes to making movies and TV series for its Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm franchises. The company is looking to cut costs during a time when its recent films have underwhelmed at the box office.
“You pull back not just to focus, but also as part of our cost containment initiative. Spending less on what we make, and making less,”
According to a reorganization of business earlier this year, Disney “has to” cut $5.5 billion in costs. $3 billion of that cost-cutting would be from content excluding sports. Iger reiterated in his CNBC interview that a lot of decisions were made in the past to prop up the company’s flagship streaming service, Disney+. He called out Marvel as being an example of the company’s “zeal” to pump up its original content on streaming.
“Marvel is a great example of that. It had not been in the television business at any significant level, and not only did they increase their movie output, but they ended up making a number of TV series. Frankly, it diluted focus and attention.”
Between Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and other films that were disappointing at the box office by their normal standards, Disney hasn’t had a great year so far. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was a huge success at the box office, grossing $800+ million globally.
As for Lucasfilm, other than Indiana Jones, they really haven’t had anything out at the box office since 2019’s Rise of Skywalker. Their focus has been on streaming series like Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Mandalorian, Andor, Willow (which was unceremoniously canceled and dumped from Disney+), and other Star Wars series.
We’ll have to see how this affects the programming of Disney+ and the movies that Disney puts out. They have plenty of Marvel movies still planned for release and at least three Star Wars movies upcoming.
It might just end up being that they need to reign in the budgets for these big blockbuster films. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny cost upward of $300 million to make. Most of the Marvel films are above $200 million budgets now. It’s high time to get back to a more manageable blockbuster. A shift in release schedules might benefit the overworked and underappreciated VFX workers that Disney and Marvel employ.
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