In Spite of the Oscar Drought, 2019 was an Unmitigated Success
2019 was Disney’s year. Countless blockbuster releases including “Avengers: Endgame,” “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” “Captain Marvel,” “Aladdin,” “The Lion King,” “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” “Toy Story 4,” and more (not to mention the launch of Disney+ and the opening of “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” at Disney World) made 2019 the Walt Disney Company’s most lucrative year by a landslide.
As Disney enters 2020, however, the entertainment conglomerate seems to be pumping the breaks, or at least shifting gears. So far this year, there is yet to be a major theatrical release from Disney, and its highly anticipated films such as Pixar’s “Onward,” the live action “Mulan” or Marvel’s “Black Widow” will not come out until March 6th, March 27th, and May 1st respectively.
So what is Disney doing in the meantime? Is CEO Bob Iger just counting his paychecks from last year, or is the company plotting something new? Or are they scrambling for new ideas now that Marvel has concluded its eleven year Infinity Saga and Star Wars is on a filmic hiatus according to Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy?
The answer lies somewhere in the margins between everything above. It is unlikely that the company will top its 2019 earnings in 2020 and it is also unlikely that they will have the same dominance over the box office.
However, it seems as if Disney is turning its attention away from the big screen this year and onto its other entertainment mediums. For example, even though the company has not yet released a major movie for 2020, it has been doing immense marketing for the new “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance” ride at Disney World and Disneyland theme parks.
“Rise of the Resistance” is a narrative, interactive attraction at the parks’ Star Wars themed Galaxy’s Edge. The attraction opened at Orlando’s Disney World in December and has since been expanding to the company’s other parks around the globe. Attendance and spending at the parks has gone up since the ride debuted, likely making it Disney’s most profitable draw of 2020 thus far.
Full-on Entry into Streaming Wars and an Impressive Initial Push
Likewise, with Disney+ coming out in late 2019 and receiving an immense number of subscribers in just its few months of existence, the novel online streaming site will certainly be one of Disney’s biggest priorities for 2020. Production has already begun for Season 2 of “The Mandalorian”—the service’s most popular original show, set in the Star Wars universe—and a number of additional original programs are set to come out this year including Marvel’s “WandaVision” series and a late final season of Disney Channel/Cartoon Network’s “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.” Given the copious number of streaming services set to come out in 2020, Disney will have to put its best foot forward to keep Disney+ above the competition.
What consumers often forget about Disney, especially after a year like 2019, is that the company is far more than a just film production enterprise. The Walt Disney Company encompasses amusement parks, books, radio, music, television, comics, and much, much more. While Disney might seem like it is slowing down based on its movie catalogue for 2020, the business is still running strong thanks to its many other sectors.
Furthermore, Disney owns more than just Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Pixar. 20th Century Fox, ESPN, Blue Sky Studios, Searchlight Pictures, Hulu, National Geographic and over a dozen more labels also fall under its corporate umbrella. Therefore, the studio will presumably continue profiting from the box office in 2020, even if it’s signature logo is not always plastered on the content.
Nevertheless, Disney still does have a handful of movies in the works for 2020. In addition to the aforementioned “Onward,” “Mulan,” and “Black Widow,” Disney will come out with “Call of the Wild” on February 21st, a Harrison Ford starring retelling of Jack London’s classic canine-centered novel. It will then team up with Pixar again to release “Soul” on June 19th, the animated comedy from the director of “Inside Out” and “Up.” We can also look forward to the releases of “Artemis Fowl” on May 29th, “Jungle Cruise” on July 24th, and “The One and Only Ivan” on August 14th before Disney comes out with more highly anticipated titles towards the end of the year such as Marvel’s “The Eternals” in November and Stephen Spielberg’s “West Side Story” remake in December.
Once again, 2019 was Disney’s year, but that does not mean that its momentum will stop in 2020. The 2010s marked the company’s acquisition of Lucasfilm and Fox as well as its game-changing capitalization on Marvel. What Disney has in store for the next decade is unknown, but it is likely to be just as magical—and highly profitable—as always.
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