This morning was the annual Shareholder meeting for the Walt Disney Company. Lots of things were discussed in the hour-long call including updates on attraction and parks opening, Disney+ updates, movie updates, and of course, the always entertaining questions.
Here are some of the highlights:
Bob Iger started off the meeting, reminding everybody that this will be his last Annual Shareholders meeting and he will depart the Walt Disney Company on December 31, 2021.
Up next was the boring part where shareholder proposals were rejected (including a proposal that would have put a Disney CM on the board, because how could you (apparently)).
Then came Disney CEO Bob Chapek with some pretty big announcements.
First that Disney+ now has over 100 million subscribers (wow).
This is pretty amazing considering how new the streaming platform still is, even with the success of The Mandalorian, WandaVision and a few other franchises. Also amazing considering that most people who had Free Trials for the first year have now had those run out.
For those who have Hulu and are also fans of ESPN, it was announced that ESPN+ could now be accessed from the Hulu app beginning tomorrow (March 10th).
In movie news, Black Widow is still heading to theaters on May 7th. But don't expect a simultaneous release on Disney+ premiere, doesn't look like it's going to happen. So sadly, for those of us who may not be quite ready to head to the theater by May, we're going to have to wait a bit. This will probably be the first Marvel movie many of us miss seeing in the theater. But you can see the strategy here I guess.
Next up came the parks portion of the meeting.
First up was the announcement that the California Parks will open sometime in late April. This makes sense considering how long the parks have been closed, having to bring back unionized Cast Members, re-hiring processes, training and of course all of the other logistics that go into restarting a park that has been closed for a year.
Rest assured though, the park attractions have been running through all of this so at least they don't just have to clear off the cobwebs from all the attractions not named Haunted Mansion.
In a bit of a shocker Bob Chapek also announced an opening date for Remy's Ratatouille Adventure, October 1st.
While at first glance this may not make sense, upon taking a deeper dive into the strategy here, it kind of does. There is already a LOT of demand for the parks in FL. They are slowly moving to get back to "normal" park operations over the next few months, and throwing a new attraction into the mix just would be another added thing in addition to the million other things going on.
Still, we'd be shocked if we don't see soft openings happen this summer, probably for an extended time period.
On that same subject, Avengers Campus which was originally supposed to open in the Summer of 2020 is also scheduled to open at some point this year. No specific date was given but I wouldn't anticipate this opening in late April when Disney California Adventure opens or even in the weeks or months following.
Again, pent up demand + lowered capacity limit given the California guidelines for opening parks pretty much means it's not necessary at this point. Best to do it right when you can have a proper opening.
For the international parks, Fantasy Springs at Tokyo DisneySea will open in 2023 and in Disney Cruise Line news the Disney Wish will have it's first sailing in 2022.
Speaking of the Disney Cruise Line, they are obviously wanting to get it back up and running and sailings could resume this fall depending on a variety of factors, including Vaccinations. Something other cruise lines have emphasized as well. It looks like the entire industry is on the same page on this one.
Next came the questions and answers portion, which are always wildly entertaining, and out there.
One of the questions was regarding Gina Carano to which Chapek gave the following answer: “I don’t really see Disney as characterizing itself as left-leaning or right-leaning, yet instead of standing for values, values that are universal, values of respect, values of decency, values of integrity and values of inclusion.”
For some reason that we always fail to understand, Bob Chapek gets a lot of hate from Disney fans. But this answer was absolutely perfect.
In the "somebody really asked this" category, somebody asked the CEO of a major corporation if he was going to fire the head of one of their most lucrative divisions during a Shareholders meeting. That's Disney for you.
His response when asked if hew as going to fire Kathleen Kennedy "We look forward to having Kathy Kennedy run our Lucasfilm operations for years to come".
This years meeting was definitely shorter than years past, but a lot of great information was shared.
Once again, it's great to see things being talked about "opening" vs the other way around.