Things aren’t good at Disney right now, that much we can tell from recent box office bombs that have affected even their biggest IPs, and release calendars which are anything but stable following internal struggles and the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes. Well, it seems Disney CEO Bob Iger is only partially aware of what the public thinks.
During The New York Times’ DealBook conference (via Variety), Iger talked about where they’re at and what the plan is to float the Disney boat, which hasn’t stopped taking on water ever since the other Bob (Chapek) stepped in and focused way too much on the Disney Plus side of the business. Even though he was kicked out of the company one year ago and Iger returned with a “quality over quantity” mandate, things haven’t improved magically in such a short period of time. But of course, they didn’t expect 2023 tentpoles such as Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and The Marvels to underperform so badly.
While Iger said (via Deadline) he doesn’t “want to apologize for making sequels,” he acknowledged the appeal of some brands might’ve suffered because of a lack of restraint and proper quality control: “Some of them have done extraordinarily well. And they’ve been good films too. I think there has to be a reason to make it, beyond commerce. You have to have a good story. And we have made too many.”
All this talk clashes with the sudden February 2023 announcement of Toy Story, Frozen, and Zootopia having sequels rushed into development, a clear move (again) towards risk-averse projects in order to make up for recent failures which often weren’t tied to the creative quality of the projects themselves. With Marvel on the back foot and looking to have a slower 2024 with only Deadpool 3 releasing in cinemas, and Star Wars and Avatar taking their sweet time to get the next theatrical releases right, one can see why Disney is looking at sure hits (if there’s such a thing anymore) to make numbers go up. As a direct result, this kind of talk about not greenlighting too many sequels too fast feels disingenuous and is the kind of attitude that got them in this awkward position in the first place.