Disney CEO Bob Iger has a master plan to get the Walt Disney Company back on track. The problem is he is underestimating a core foundation of the company’s business model and its impact on the future of all its major entities.
A Flaw in the Plan
In a recent interview with CNBC anchor Julia Boorstin, Iger stressed the importance of improving Disney’s profitability before the company held its quarterly earnings report. He also remarked on where Disney will invest heavily in the coming years.
Over the decades, the company has made a notable amount of money with its theme park offerings. However, as Disney evolved its parks over the years, it has strayed away from unique attractions and almost entirely placed rides and offerings linked to its intellectual properties in these locations.
Current audiences and fans expect Disney theme parks to introduce themed areas surrounding its franchises now. This is what largely keeps them coming to these vacation destinations. They want to be immersed in their favorite worlds.
Furthermore, the company must consistently release new stories and franchises with the same creative success surrounding gems like Frozen (2013).
However, Iger has continued to downplay and ignore the elephant in the room. Many of Disney’s intellectual properties still suffer from sequel fatigue or worse. Fans and critics attack many of the studios’ latest offerings for what they perceive as safe, soulless, and lacking creativity.
Disney Franchise Criticism
Disney has contended with multiple failures in 2023 alone in franchises that would normally be instant successes.
Lucasfilm’s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023) famously bombed over the summer, becoming one of Disney’s biggest failures. This is a franchise that enjoyed generations of enthusiastic fans and profitability. However, it arguably became a disappointment under Disney and put the franchise’s future into question.
Furthermore, Marvel Studios has struggled to maintain its audience’s attention with its recent films. While Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3 (2023) did have some moderate success, other titles were not so lucky.
Ant-man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023) and Disney+ programs like Secret Wars (2023) were met with lukewarm to hostile fan reception. Many Marvel fans are now questioning whether the studio has lost its appeal.
The Marvels (2023) is Disney’s next attempt at generating a successful superhero film, but all signs point to it being another financial failure. It also has mixed reviews and many indifferent fans.
Even Star Wars has been largely abandoned by many of its devoted fanbase since coming under the Disney brand. The company has created a reputation problem, which needs to be the main focus on the road to recovery.
Fans Losing Interest
Fans visiting Disney parks want to be immersed in their favorite worlds. However, what would keep fans coming to these magical places if their favorite worlds continue to disappoint?
Furthermore, Disney’s attempts to introduce new intellectual properties haven’t exactly panned out well. Based on the theme park attraction, The Haunted Mansion (2023) was supposed to start a franchise worthy of Johnny Depp’s Pirates of the Caribbean saga, but that is largely dead now due to indifference at the box office.
Disney’s future relies on convincing its fans that it still has the creative passion and invested interest in shaping words and molding franchises that people love. If it wants to invest a ton of money into its theme parks and cruise ships, it should also ensure it has a solid foundation to stand on.
In contrast, Universal Studios has seen exponential growth largely by investing in popular franchises that continue to have fan appeal. Its upcoming Epic Universe park in Florida promises to continue this trend, and Disney has nothing in the pipeline to really compete with it.
It’s not all doom and gloom. There is hope in Disney’s next animated release, Wish (2023). The film is getting hype, and Pixar’s Elemental (2023) also came back from the dead to be a success story. However, a few moderate wins don’t reshape an existing problem.
Every failure at the box office and every disappointing sequel or new release gives the company less and less credibility. If this isn’t given the attention it deserves, all other pillars in the foundation will start to crumble.