One year after returning to the Walt Disney Company, CEO Bob Iger may have finally caught on to what Disney fans have been yelling about for a long while now: we are tired of sequels and want our traditional, magical Disney movies back.
In a bold statement, Iger has expressed his potential frustration with failing box office performance, citing the issuse of sequel films, especially those surrounding the Marvel Cinematic Universe, to be a “problem” if their storylines don’t hold up to why fans fell in love with Disney movies in the first place.
Iger Sits Down with the New York Times
In an interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin at The New York Times’ DealBook Summit, CEO Bob Iger expressed concern over the expectations of Disney films. Although the entertainment company, including Pixar, Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Pictures, Lucasfilm, Marvel Studios, and Walt Disney Animation Studios, has experienced a great deal of success over its lineage, Iger feels there is an “unbelievably high standard” and that he thinks “we have to get more realistic.”
Although Disney has done well with sequel-based concepts, especially with acquired properties such as Star Wars and Marvel, some fans are feeling the fatigue of relentless stories in Disney movies that intertwine and require hours of binge-watching to maintain an appropriate storyline.
As for the way consumers watch products, Iger seems to understand that the evolving nature of viewership must be accounted for when strategically moving forward with sequels, especially within the MCU, which has lost much of its luster since Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man took on Thanos in Avengers: End Game (2019).
“The experience of accessing and watching [films] them in the home is better than it ever was. It’s a bargain when you think about it. Streaming Disney+, you can get for $7 a month. That’s a lot cheaper than taking your whole family to a film. So, I think the bar is now raised in terms of quality about what gets people out of their homes into movie theaters.”
Iger Wants to Make Original Disney Movies Work, But For Streaming
Iger, who has been very vocal regarding his determination to make Disney+ work, also understands that streaming Disney movies, shows, and cartoons at home is a much more realistic option compared to theatre comparisons, which has faltered with recent releases of a fifth Indiana Jones film that suffered the worst box office loss in its franchises history, Wish (2023), and now, The Marvels (2023).
As the way consumers engage with products shifts in a world whose very fabric is fractured, Disney has had to endure an onslaught of criticism over the years related to its potentially “woke” status in the eyes of the public. As the company has admitted to using its podium to advance their own directive in ongoing culture wars, this hasn’t helped the Walt Disney Animation Studio in the least at the box office. However, Iger still blames a “dilution” of the quality of their current products, directing much of their immediate failure on post-pandemic restrictions per CNBC, while ignoring fan outcry over their dive into politics and social hot-button issues.
Still, Iger understands that for Disney to regain traction, whether it be in theatre seats or through their streaming service, Disney+, and to return to the greatness of content such as Toy Story (1995) or Lion King , a strategic shift that aims to ensure Disney maintains its position as a pioneer in the entertainment industry and continues to captivate audiences around the world is necessary.
In short, Disney movies must get back to being Disney movies. Although stories like Black Panther (2016), Mary Poppins (1964), and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) are amazing, we don’t need new renditions of these popular stories that weaken their characters.
Disney Movies Don’t Need to Be Rehashed
This has been a huge problem for Disney movies lately. Walt Disney Studios and Disney animation have regurgitated, in an attempt to play on our nostalgia, stories that once resonated with audiences. However, as noted with The Little Mermaid (2023) featuring Halle Bailey, the controversy surrounding Rachel Zegler’s role as a live-action Snow White, and the barrage of unoriginal content, it isn’t working.
Disney fans want more stories like Finding Nemo (2003), The Jungle Book (1967), and Peter Pan (1953), but not rehashed stories that change what we love about the characters from these once-epic Disney movies.
Audiences have no love shortage for Disney princesses, pirates, and fantastic tales of good versus evil. Still, they’re tired of Disney messing with the formula, creating knock-off versions of characters like Captain Marvel, Robin Hood, or Sleeping Beauty.
Shift towards Originality
Iger’s inference to stop making sequels stems from Disney’s past commitment to creativity and innovation. In shorter words, he’s admitting that their sequels just aren’t that good. But by focusing on original stories, Disney aims to bring fresh and unique content to their fans. This strategy not only encourages creative growth within the company but also allows for the exploration of new narratives and characters.
However, recent films like Haunted Mansion (2023) and Strange World (2021) have missed that park entirely, leaving Disney fans confused about the future of Disney movies and films.
Elevating Audience Expectations for Disney Movies
So how does CEO Bob Iger ensure that fans should be excited about the future of the MCU, Star Wars, and other Disney products? Disney must strive to exceed the expectations of its audience by delivering unparalleled storytelling experiences. By prioritizing original stories, the company aims to surprise and delight its fans with fresh, unpredictable narratives that break away from traditional sequel formulas.
This shift will provide audiences with captivating stories and settings that they have never encountered before. However, Iger, as mentioned in the interview cited by CNBC, must also fill his ears with wax when it comes to critics and box office expectations.
“And I’m not sure another studio will ever achieve some of the numbers that we achieved. I mean, we got to the point where if a film didn’t do a billion dollars in global box office, we were disappointed.”
Although films like Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avatar (2009) have made billions at the box office, Iger understands that these are outlying situations and not the norm.
Diversifying Franchise Portfolios
While Disney has enjoyed tremendous success with its franchise films, including Marvel Studios products, the decision to halt sequels that aren’t built upon the original love of characters allows them to diversify their portfolio of movies.
By investing in new properties and creating original content, Disney, Pixar Animation Studio, and their other production branches can cater to a wider range of audience interests and preferences. This opens up opportunities for compelling stories across various genres and themes, ensuring a more significant overall cinematic experience.
With Disney+ as a demonstrative weapon in its arsenal, Disney can also focus heavily on new characters, films, and shows, which include a Disney princess or two, while testing audience reaction via their streaming service. Much like they’ve done with Disney Channel original movies in the past.
Fostering a Culture of Innovation
Disney’s commitment to innovation extends beyond its storytelling. By embracing originality, Disney encourages its creative teams to push boundaries and explore new frontiers constantly. This shift not only stimulates the imagination of the talent behind the scenes but also keeps Disney at the forefront of the industry, setting new standards and inspiring fellow filmmakers and studios.
Iger, who will step down from the role of CEO in 2026, understands that Disney’s power comes from its originality. Iconic Disney film is cemented in one fact, formidable, original characters like we’ve seen in Inside Out (2015) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) are the hallmark of the business.
Preserving the Legacy of Beloved Franchises in Disney Movies
While Disney will be focusing on original stories moving forward, this does not mean the end of their beloved franchises. The decision to halt sequels allows Disney to ensure that future installments are carefully crafted, maintaining the quality and integrity of the original films. This approach guarantees that fan-favorite characters and worlds will continue to be cherished while leaving room for new and exciting stories.
Disney’s decision to stop making sequels signifies a new era for the company, one that embraces originality, creativity, and immersive experiences. By investing in fresh narratives and diverse properties, Disney aims to captivate audiences with compelling stories that break away from the sequel formula.
Rest assured, Disney and Iger’s commitment to quality remains, both in new original content and the preservation of cherished franchises. As Disney embarks on this exciting journey, fans can anticipate unforgettable adventures and magical experiences in the years to come.
Iger Isn’t Apologizing for Making Disney Movie Sequels
In the ever-evolving landscape of the entertainment industry, Disney has undoubtedly made its mark as a master storyteller. With a rich history of creating magical worlds and beloved characters, the company has ventured into the realm of sequels to continue captivating audiences.
Bob Iger, being the key figure at the company helm, has taken a firm stance, unapologetic for the decision to create sequels. However, despite his claim to fix Disney’s sequel problem, Iger isn’t apologetic for the strategy so far.
“I don’t want to apologize for making sequels. Some of them have done extraordinarily well and they’ve been good films, too. I think you there has to be a reason to make them, you have to have a good story. And often the story doesn’t hold up to is not as strong as the original story. That can be a problem.”
Recognizing the Power of Successful Franchises
Bob Iger, the former and current CEO of The Walt Disney Company, understands the potential of successful film franchises. By creating sequels to popular movies, Disney can tap into the immense fan base and build upon established narratives. This strategic move not only keeps audiences engaged but also allows for further exploration of beloved characters and storylines.
Meeting Audience Demand
One of the driving forces behind the decision to produce movie sequels is the audience’s unwavering desire for more. Disney recognizes the immense love and passion fans have for their movies, and sequels still offer an opportunity, which Iger believes falls “beyond commerce” to continue the magic. By staying true to the heart of the original films while expanding the story, Disney can connect with viewers on a deeper level and provide them with the content they crave.
“It doesn’t mean we’re not going to continue to make them,” he added. “We’re making a number of them now right as a matter of fact. But we will only greenlight a sequel if we believe the story that the creators want to tell is worth telling.”
Enhancing the Disney Experience
Sequels play a crucial role in extending the immersive Disney experience beyond the silver screen. By delving deeper into the worlds of beloved characters and expanding their stories, Disney creates a sense of continuity that resonates with fans. Whether it’s revisiting the adventures of Woody and Buzz in Toy Story or following the heroic journey of Marvel superheroes, sequels allow viewers to dive back into familiar and enchanting worlds.
However, they have to hold true to their original content. Fans of the Toy Story franchise will recall the popular character Woody, who disregards his friends at the end of the last Pixar film. Many were quick to point out that this is something Woody would never do.
To enhance the Disney movie experience, writers, directors, and producers must consistently reference the foundational aspects of origin stories and characters during pre and post-production.
Collaborating with Talented Filmmakers
Disney’s commitment to delivering quality Disney movies also extends to its collaborations with talented filmmakers. Bob Iger recognizes the importance of working with visionary directors, writers, and producers who can bring fresh perspectives to Disney movie sequels. By handpicking creative teams, including geniuses from all realms, such as Alan Menken, Jon Favreau, and others, that share the same passion for the original films, Disney ensures that the magic continues to shine through in each sequel.
Bob Iger’s unapologetic stance on Disney movie sequels is a testament to his belief in the power of storytelling and meeting audience demand. By recognizing successful franchises, delivering on audience expectations, enhancing the Disney experience, and collaborating with talented filmmakers, Disney continues to craft compelling sequels that captivate viewers around the world. With each new chapter, the legacy of Disney movies lives on, providing fans with cherished memories and magical moments for years to come.
Disney Movies Directly Impact Disney Parks
Another business aspect that Iger has been much quieter about is attendance at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Attendance at Disney Parks has seen a recent decline, sparking discussions among enthusiasts and industry experts alike. Many feel that the magic that once made Walt Disney World and Disneyland so attractive, the same magic built on the back of original Disney movies, is flickering out.
As the travel industry evolves, consumer preferences and behaviors undergo significant shifts. In recent years, there has been a rise in alternative travel options such as cruises, all-inclusive resorts, and international destinations, especially post-COVID. The allure of these choices might be drawing visitors away from traditional theme parks, impacting Disney’s attendance figures.
The global theme park landscape continues to expand, with new and innovative parks emerging around the world. This increased competition poses a challenge for well-established amusement parks like Disney. Visitors now have a wide range of options, both domestically and internationally. Disney must adapt their characters and stories, continually investing in new attractions derived from successful intellectual properties to remain competitive in this changing market.
Disney Parks are known for offering immersive experiences and high-quality entertainment, all based around popular film franchises. Excited in the parks heightens at the mention of new characters, rides, or shows built around popular IPS like Star Wars, Marvel, or Pixar.
However, the cost of park admission, accommodations, and dining expenses can be a deterrent for many potential visitors. Economic factors, such as fluctuations in the economy and disposable income, may impact consumers’ willingness to spend on vacation experiences like Disney Parks.
For this reason, Disney’s newest barrage of original stories and characters must be strong enough and worth it for guests to continue to spend their dollars in their theme parks. This means that Disney movies and shows moving forward must maintain an accurate depiction of what fans have come to expect from the company, not being watered down through lazy sequels.
In conclusion, it feels that Iger has his finger on the pulse of some of the serious problems surrounding Disney movies and products of late. Fresh off the flops of Wish and The Marvels, Iger is aware that something has to change, and his tune is starting to align rather nicely with his audience.