Disney plans big for Mickey’s 90th birthday

Just over 12 months from now, on November 18th 2018, it will be Mickey Mouse’s 90th birthday. Christine McCarthy, CFO at The Walt Disney Company, speaking during the company’s results conference call last week, told analysts that they had better mark their calendars for the date. “Mickey’s 90th is something that the entire company’s going to get behind and that should also be good for our Consumer Products business.”

McCarthy, and president/CEO Bob Iger, listed some of the other 2018 attractions not least Cars 3 which despite Cars 2 earning a little less in the movie theatres that expected was still worth $1 billion a year in overall revenues when licensing & merchandising was included, and “was one of our strongest franchises”.

She added: “We have Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi [opening on December 15th]. We also have a Han Solo movie coming out named Solo in the spring quarters. And we’ve got four Marvel movies including Avengers in the spring.”

Iger told analysts that the company’s upcoming direct-to-consumer offering would include the Disney name. “There’s been a lot written about whether this is aimed at being a Netflix killer, et cetera, and so on. By the way, they’ve been a good partner of ours. Our goal here is be a viable player in the direct-to-consumer space, space that we all know is a very, very compelling space to be in. We also believe that our brands and our franchises really matter, as we’ve seen through Netflix and all other platforms. And so that gives us an opportunity as well. We are working on the cadence that we will produce in sort of scheduled product in this OTT service. We’ve not determined fully what that will be, although we’ve laid out on a calendar basis a fair amount of specifics. We’re still working to develop original movies and original TV shows and figure out what makes the most sense. Part of it has to do with when they will be available.”

The Disney direct-to-consumer offering would launch in 2019, although an ESPN direct-to-consumer service (ESPN Plus] would launch [spring-time] in 2018, with some 10,000 hours of content including MLB, NHL and MLS sports events, and carry advertising. Disney will be withdrawing its traditional movie and entertainment series from Netflix as their licensing deals ended for their new Netflix-type OTT offering.

Iger added: “We’re also planning to produce a number of original series for the new service, and we’re already developing a Star Wars live action series, a series based on our popular Pixar Monsters franchise, a High School Musical series and a series for Marvel television along with a rich array of other content including new movies from our Disney Channel creative team as well as a variety of short form films and features from across our company. The service will also offer thousands of hours of Disney film and TV library product.”

The Disney direct-to-consumer service would be “substantially below where Netflix is,” said Iger.

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