Disney Investor Day 2020 gave fans more than enough content to look forward to in the coming years, but does the entertainment powerhouse’s unmatched influence spell the end for any meaningful competition?
As 2020 comes to an end, it’s more than reasonable for us to look forward to what the future holds. The entertainment industry — along with most other industries — was brought to a halt at numerous points this year, which obviously disrupted and delayed projects set for a 2020 release. Disney was no exception, with highly-anticipated movies like “Black Widow” pushed to Spring 2021 and new projects like Pixar’s “Soul” pulled from its theatrical release and instead scheduled to premiere on Disney+ on Christmas Day.
But this years’ setbacks didn’t stop Disney from announcing 61 movies and tv shows during their annual Investor Day. The conference exceeded expectations by unveiling a number of Star Wars originals and spinoffs set to release in the next four years, like “Rogue Squadron,” a live-action film focused on the franchise’s X-Wing fighter pilots, and “Ahsoka,” a Jedi-oriented spinoff of “The Mandalorian” going straight to Disney+. Disney intends on expanding the rich Star Wars Universe for years to come, which will inevitably be a successful endeavor given the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The gigantic hero universe also saw its fair share of announcements after a quiet 2020. Among the announcements was “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” and a new “Fantastic Four” project, but a lot of the excitement actually came from Marvel’s future Disney+ shows. Comic book-inspired series like “Ironheart” and “Armor Wars” will inject freshness to the television scene, while Baby Groot — the original bundle of cuteness before Baby Yoda — will have his own series titled “I Am Groot,” set between the first two “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies.
Beyond Disney’s titan franchises, there are standalone films in the works that will surely be cultural milestones. Disney’s 60th animated movie will be “Encanto,” a story set in the mountains of Colombia about a girl named Mirabel, and it will feature music from Lin-Manuel Miranda. The studios’ live-action remakes so far have been successful — albeit uninspiring — meaning sequels to “The Lion King” and “Aladdin” are scheduled for 2022 while “The Little Mermaid” is set for a Dec. 2021 live-action debut.
With a wide array of movies and shows scheduled for the next few years and beyond, Disney has truly shown how big of a content creating machine they’ve become — but is this a cause for concern?
Disney is one of five major film studios left in the business. After purchasing 20th Century Fox last year, Disney’s remaining competitors are Warner Bros., Universal, Sony and Paramount. Disney owns more than a third of the U.S. film industry, and their Investor Day alone clearly signaled the company’ stronghold. Disney+ had a big first year with 86 million subscribers, which adds up to 137 million subscribers when including Disney’s other large streaming platforms Hulu and ESPN. Disney’s current catalogue of timeless movies and shows drew a large audience already, but the plethora of projects set for the next few years will likely see Disney+ grow into a streaming behemoth fit to take on Netflix, which currently has 195 million subscribers worldwide.
Disney looks ready for entertainment domination, and it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone after years of producing quality content and aggressively acquiring studios filled with potential, like Marvel in 2009 and Lucasfilm in 2012. There’s virtually no end to how valuable Disney’s purchases have become, so is there any company out there that can reach their current stardom?
The short answer — probably not. Disney looks comfortable where they’re at in the market and their streaming service will grow by millions with the slew of new content over the next few years. However, in a reality where there’s a chance of overtaking Disney, WarnerMedia might be the closest contender.
Only a few weeks ago, WarnerMedia rocked the entire industry by announcing that “Wonder Woman: 1984” would release directly to its streaming service HBO Max, along with the studio’s entire 2021 film slate that includes “Dune,” “Matrix 4” and “Space Jam: A New Legacy.” This move will unfortunately push theaters into an even graver situation, but it’s sure to boost HBO Max’s relatively-paltry 12.6 million subscribers.
HBO Max includes critically acclaimed original content like “Game of Thrones,” “Westworld” and “Lovecraft Country,” but the streaming service will likely benefit more from the popular DC Universe. Along with the new “Wonder Woman,” fans are looking forward to Zack Snyder’s cut of “Justice League” on HBO Max in 2021, and there will be a couple of theatrical releases like “Aquaman 2” that could help find WarnerMedia success in the box office.
WarnerMedia may have an enticing plan for its movies and series — that again devastatingly cuts theaters out of the question — for at least next year, but in reality, Disney can already take a bow and claim victory over its paltry competition.
Disney+ is the company’s new money-making crown jewel that will only get bigger, according to their five-year forecast, and Disney knows how stellar their content across all franchises and studios will be in the next few years. Disney created a machine with magical momentum that has swept up fans young and old and has no signs of stopping anytime soon.
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