On Thursday, Disney CEO Bob Iger addressed future media trajectories for Walt Disney Studios, noting that the Company may move past releasing additional sequel films in a franchise.
For most of the Walt Disney Studios’ history, the animation mogul focused on adapting unique storylines each time, setting up a system to release success after success. Indeed, Walt himself prioritized the next big thing after creating a hit film, seeking original ideas to prove just as prolific.
These days, the Disney formula functions a bit differently. After the blockbuster achievements of the Disney Renaissance titles in the late 1980s to early 2000s, Disney began to return to the drawing board in a new way: releasing sequels to hit films, something Disney had never done before.
On one hand, the idea seemed to work: Disney had an automatic lure for audiences already familiar with the property who wanted to see the storyline continue, and the more time went on, the easier a nostalgia draw became. Since then, Disney has created massively profitable sequel franchises, such as Toy Story 1-4, a slew of live-action remakes, and the recently confirmed Frozen 1-3.
In fact, it feels easier now to assume a widely popular Disney film will spawn multiple sequels down the line rather than remaining an isolated success. Moreover, as Disney acquires other IP such as the Muppets, Star Wars, Avatar, and Marvel, it seeks to recoup and capitalize on that investment with an already captive audience.
For example, Disney has utilized its streaming platform to further explore the storylines of some of its most popular characters, even bargaining its assets to gain access to characters like The Hulk and Namor to create their own trilogies or spinoff shows. Even so, Iger has begun to question the value of this practice, not just financially, but in terms of creative focus.
Of course, Iger’s all about uplifting the creative team and restoring authority to many Development leads in a Company-wide restructuring following his return to the position with the exit of CEO Bob Chapek. According to CNBC, Iger feels “there are a lot more stories to tell,” and told the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference he wondered if a third or fourth sequel was always necessary within the Marvel Cinematic Universe at the expense of exploring other characters.
Perhaps because of the low theatrical release revenue for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Disney has delayed releases for other sequels such as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and The Marvels. Furthermore, he said:
There’s nothing in any way inherently off in terms of the Marvel brand. I think we just have to look at what characters and stories we’re mining, and you look at the trajectory of Marvel over the next five years, you’ll see a lot of newness. We’re going to turn back to the Avengers franchise, but with a whole different set of Avengers.