Disney’s Bob Chapek talks the future of moviegoing, Disney Plus, and more

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

Disney, Disney Plus, Bob Chapek, streaming, Disney theme parks, Marvel

This March marks one year since the coronavirus kicked into high gear across the globe, leaving many to wonder when things will return to "normal." Unfortunately, I don't have any answers for you. If I did, we'd all be buying tickets to concerts, dining indoors without the use of plexiglass, and enjoying movies on the silver screen in a packed theater. Alas, until the coronavirus is well under our control, things will continue to change. As such, Walt Disney Company chief exec Bob Chapek spoke at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecommunications Conference on Monday, and shared his thoughts on the future of moviegoing, Disney Plus, and more.

While Chapek remains hopeful about the future, he admits that he's “not sure there’s going back” to pre-pandemic release windows. Disney has made a lot of changes to the way they release film and television content this past year, thanks in part to Disney Plus, the company's streaming platform. Needless to say, Chapek has been watching the numbers very closely and noted that Disney in 2019 released 11 films that earned at least $1 billion. That said, Disney is forever rethinking their strategy when it comes to releasing tentpole content either in theaters or through Disney Plus.

“I think the consumer is probably more impatient than they’ve ever been before,” said Chapek. “Particularly since now, they’ve had the luxury of an entire year of getting titles at home pretty much when they want them. So I’m not sure there’s going back, but we certainly don’t want to do anything like cut the legs off of a theatrical exhibition run.”

He's not wrong. As much as I do miss going to the theater, and I do, Disney Plus has been a great way to gain access to the Disney content I crave. Simply put, watching stuff at home keeps me safe as well as entertained. Granted it's not the same as going to a theater, but until I feel as if I can trust that others have been vaccinated for the coronavirus, my ass is staying put.

Chapek isn't concerned about just one person though. Not at all. He's watching consumer behavior like a hawk and adjusting as the trends continue to change.

“I don’t think they’ll have much of a tolerance for a title, say, being out of theatrical for months, yet it hasn’t had a chance to actually be thrown into the marketplace in another distribution channel, just sort of sitting there getting dust,” he added. “It certainly makes a lot of sense right now, in a COVID world, to have an option,” he said. “Obviously, theaters aren’t going to be 100% back. But it’s nice to know that we’ve got the ability for people who do want to enjoy it in their home — because they don’t quite feel confident in going to a movie theater — that they’ve got that choice. What this looks like in the future? Well, we’re going to gain a lot of experience and a lot of data points.”

While speaking to his online audience, Chapek addressed Marvel’s slate of upcoming television series, noting that the future looks bright for superhero shows on Disney Plus. In short, Chapek doesn't see people tiring of superheroes anytime soon.

“In terms of fatigue, I guess that’s borne out in the numbers,” he said, noting that WandaVision has been a smash hit for the streamer. “I would say the situation is the same for Marvel as it is Lucas[film]. You know, if you look at it, we’ve averaged over a billion dollars a film since the acquisition of both Lucas[film] and Marvel, which I think is an absolutely incredible statistic.”

Chapek also took time to say that he was "surprised" by the consumer response to Disney Plus, after seeing that the service netted 95 million paying subscribers in record time.

“What we didn’t realize was the non-family appeal that a service like Disney Plus would have. In fact, over 50% of our global marketplace [subscribers] don’t have kids, and that is a big difference,” he said. “When 50% of the [subscribers to] Disney Plus don’t have kids, you really have the opportunity now to think much more broadly about the nature of your content.”

As far as Disney theme parks are concerned, there's still a lot of work that has yet to be done before parks can operate at full capacity. Chapek says that he is "thrilled" with the response to the health and safety protocols that have been enforced throughout the parks and that he expects the parks will recover once the vaccine rollout is in full swing.

"Demand is going to rebound quite handsomely," says Chapek about Mouseketeers soon being able to storm the gates of Disney theme parks.

Where do you stand on returning to theaters and having Disney Plus as your one-stop-shop for Disney content until the pandemic is over? Are you ready and willing to return to Disney theme parks as soon as it's deemed safe to do so? How sick and tired are you of my asking these questions? Seriously. This pandemic needs to get hit with the "Wrap it Up" machine from The Chappelle's Show.

Source: Variety

About the Author

Born and raised in New York, then immigrated to Canada, Steve Seigh has been a JoBlo.com editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. He started with Ink & Pixel, a column celebrating the magic and evolution of animation, before launching the companion YouTube series Animation Movies Revisited. He's also the host of the Talking Comics Podcast, a personality-driven audio show focusing on comic books, film, music, and more. You'll rarely catch him without headphones on his head and pancakes on his breath.