Walt Disney would be very happy as his namesake company earned revenue of $55.632 billion in 2016 and reported assets of $92.033 billion.
“We’ve been bringing people together with great entertainment for almost a century,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company, at Disney’s annual meeting of shareholders this year. “And the key to our success really has always been great storytelling. Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and ABC—they’re more than just an unparalleled portfolio of tremendous brands and franchises. They represent the largest single collection of visionary storytellers in the world.”
Disney is leveraging these brands to strategically expand consumer offerings throughout its core businesses.
In 2019, Disney will open Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, spectacular 14-acre lands that will immerse guests in the stories of this phenomenal franchise. Visitors will be able to pilot the Millennium Falcon and board a Star Destroyer in the cutting-edge attractions that will use the latest technology to transport guests to a galaxy far, far away.
Also on the horizon for Parks are a fleet of new offerings including new attractions based on Ratatouille and Guardians of the Galaxy at Epcot, the TRON Lightcycle Power Run—the most popular attraction at Shanghai Disney Resort—coming to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, three new ships bringing the Disney Cruise Line fleet to seven, Toy Story Land (which is opening next year at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Shanghai Disney Resort), and much more.
Disney has enjoyed spectacular success at the box office, and has a robust film slate lined up from Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars. New animated releases from Disney and Pixar in the next year include Coco, The Incredibles 2 and Wreck It Ralph: Ralph Breaks the Internet. Plus, highly anticipated sequels to Frozen and Toy Story are currently in production.
Disney’s upcoming live action releases includes A Wrinkle in Time as well as Mulan, Dumbo, The Lion King and Aladdin. This December, Disney will release Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the follow-up to 2015’s box office-breaking smash Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And over the next 12 months, Disney will release an unprecedented four films from Marvel alone, including Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, Avenger: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp.
As the world’s largest licensor, Disney effectively extends its ecosystem of branded storytelling through licensed and vertical products, mobile and console video games, physical books and digital content and retail partnerships. Through innovative retail programs like Star Wars Force Friday and re-imagined brand-defining properties, such as the recently launched Club Mickey Mouse, Disney stays in the cultural zeitgeist with Millennials and Gen Z audiences, who increasingly engage with Disney through digital and social platforms.
Embracing new technologies to reach its consumers with the most innovative entertainment continues to play a central role in how Disney shares it stories. In August, 2017, The Walt Disney Company announced it agreed to acquire majority ownership of streaming service BAMTech, LLC.
“The media landscape is increasingly defined by direct relationships between content creators and consumers, and our control of BAMTech’s full array of innovative technology will give us the power to forge those connections, along with the flexibility to quickly adapt to shifts in the market,” Bob Iger said in announcing the new plans. “This acquisition and the launch of our direct-to-consumer services mark an entirely new growth strategy for the Company, one that takes advantage of the incredible opportunity that changing technology provides us to leverage the strength of our great brands.” First out of the gate will be an ESPN-branded multi-sport service, launching in early 2018, which will offer a robust array of sports programming.
A new Disney-branded streaming service will also be launched, and will become the exclusive home in the U.S. for subscription-video-on-demand viewing of the newest live action and animated Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars movies, beginning with the 2019 theatrical slate, which includes Toy Story 4, the sequel to Frozen, and The Lion King from Disney live-action, along with other highly anticipated movies.
Disney will also make a significant investment in an annual slate of original movies, TV shows, short-form content and other Disney-branded exclusives for the service. Additionally, the service will feature a vast collection of library content, including Disney and Pixar movies and Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD television programming. Disney also plans to launch the service in international markets.
“Given our incomparable collection of strong brands that are recognized and respected the world over, no one is better positioned to lead the industry into this dynamic new era—and we’re accelerating our strategy to be at the forefront of this transformation,” Iger commented.
Leveraging 94 years of customer interaction since founding in 1923 by brothers Walt Disney and Roy O. Disney as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, the company today is the world’s second-largest media conglomerate in terms of revenue, after Comcast.
As the world reels with alternate facts, fake news, and political and economic upheaval, the house that Walt built continues to feed the hunger for escapist entertainment at its best.