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Disney Rebound is Here

The COVID era wasn’t kind to Disney and post-COVID wasn’t much better.

Financially, things did look brighter for the House of Mouse. Disney revenue in 2022 $82.772 billion, a massive 22.7% jump from 2021. Theme park attendance was up 35% in 2022, and merchandise sales remained steady. Duffy Bear alone sold $500 million worth of merchandise and is still largely unknown in the USA (Disney Plus will change that soon enough). Despite box office loss after box office loss, things looked good on paper.

But in the Court of Public Opinion, Disney looked like they got out of the ring after going a few rounds against Mike Tyson. Rachel Zegler’s comments made shareholders grimace while Bob Iger delivered remarks deemed disastrous about the SAG and writer’s strike, calling their demands “unrealistic” and that this was “very disturbing” to him. The remarks prompted Fran Drescher to fire back “We’re unrealistic while he makes $78,000 a day!” Their PR chief quit after three months at the job. The Galactic Starcruiser experience, Willow being removed from existence, Marvel having issues, Star Wars having issues, and South Park piling on, all in the same calendar year.

Their stock plummeted from 197 in 2021 to 79 last October, even with the return of Bob Iger. Disney needed a shot in the arm and the news that came from the quarterly report yesterday made shareholders “look to the east”.

Disney Invests $1.5 Billion in Epic Games

This announcement sent shockwaves through the gaming community for a couple of reasons. First, an investment of this size opens the door for Disney skins, themes, products, etc to be available for Fortnite players. 62.7% of players are under the age of 24, the game generated $6 billion in revenue in 2022 alone, and (most importantly) 77% of all players made at least one in-game purchase. Disney announced the “new persistent universe will offer a multitude of opportunities for consumers to play, watch, shop and engage with content, characters and stories from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, Avatar and more.” Please note the “shop” in that statement.

Coming soon to a device playing Fortnite near you! Image from Disney’s website.

 

This Has To Be a Typo, Right? 

Disney has 30 movies coming out this year in theaters and streaming. That’s right…30. While the box office wasn’t kind to the company in 2023, losing almost one billion dollars and failing to produce a billion dollar movie since 2015. They are primed for a rebound in a big way. Movies coming out this year include “The First Omen”, “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes”, “Inside Out 2”, “Deadpool 3”, “Mufasa: The Lion King”, “Aladdin: The Broadway Musical”, “Nightbitch” and a surprise release of “Moana 2”.

It’s full speed ahead for various studios under the Disney umbrella and while Star Wars is noticeably absent, there will be multiple theatrical releases in 2025 and 2026 with “Avatar 3” also being released in 2025.

“Moana 2” will be released this year. Image from the trailer released by Disney.

Show Me The Money 

Shareholders, authors, viewers, and readers (that’s you!) LOVE numbers and Disney delivered in a big way.

  • They increased their dividend by 50%.
  • Bloomberg predicted adjusted earnings of $0.99 a share…Disney blew that away with $1.22 a share.
  • Including ESPN+, total direct-to-consumer losses amounted to $216 million versus the $1.05 billion reported in the year-earlier period. They expect to add 5.5 million to 6 million core Disney+ users in the second quarter as Charter cable subscribers begin to receive complimentary Disney+ subscriptions as part of their packages.
  • Entertainment operating income rose above 100% year over year to hit $874 million.
  • As I hammer away on the keyboard, the stock rose 12.33% to it’s highest level since September of 2022.

It’s been a while since the Disney stock hit this level. Image from Yahoo Finance.

A Very Swift Move

Unless you’ve been hiding out on Tatooine, you can’t avoid Taylor Swift news. The press follow her every move, her stalker’s every move, the NFL can’t get enough of her, and “The Eras Tour” had a $5 billion impact on consumer spending. The so-called “Swift Lift” was something Disney was banking on when they announced that you can watch the film of the concert on Disney Plus in March of this year. “The Eras Tour” film grossed more than $260 million in the global box office, making it the top selling concert film in box office history.

The domestic gross for the film nearly put it in the Top 10 for 2023, but put it ahead of “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”, “Creed III”, “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts”, and was only $8 million away from passing “John Wick 4”.

According to Apex Marketing Group, it’s estimated since Swift started attending games, $330 million of revenue has been generated for the NFL and the Chiefs. Her Tokyo leg of the world tour saw fans waiting outside of the venue to get tickets and merchandise, in sub-freezing temperatures, for hours. Up to 34.1 billion yen (about $229.6 million) are expected to be generated from Swift’s concerts. She will play six shows in Singapore – with tickets for those selling out within hours – and seven shows in Australia later in February.

A partnership with the blonde bombshell was an absolute no-brainer for any company, but only Disney was able to close the deal.

Love her or hate her, there is no denying the impact Taylor Swift has had. Image from her tour website.

 

Does this news pump you up for Disney’s future? Do you see any potholes on their road to success? Drop your comment and let your voice be heard! Head on over to the home page of our website to see what other news you need to get caught up on.

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