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What Happened to Disney?

I could fill a library with reasons Disney has lost its creative edge in the past decade. But I’m going to use one major example of how Disney has lost its way with filmmaking.

And that, is the mere existence of Disney+

Disney, for the past twenty years, has started gobbling up other studio’s Intellectual Properties (IPs). During this time, Disney acquired the rights to many Marvel super heroes. This was seen as a good thing, since it gave one studio full control to create large, over-arching stories.

Then in 2012, Disney purchased full rights to Star Wars. This purchase completed a milestone for Disney. Now after many years Disney completely owned former competitor Pixar, the huge library of Marvel IPs, and the bottomless content well of Star Wars content.

So what’s next?

After compiling some of the most profitable sources of revenue ever, Disney still had one major competitor- Netflix. Disney has owned streaming service Hulu since 2009, but due to the nature of Hulu it could never compete with Netflix. The cost, ads, and smaller library of domestic entertainment limit Hulu’s popularity. So Disney knew what needed to be done- build back better.

With the pandemic of 2020, Disney released its exclusive streaming service- Disney+, which showcased all* of their original content, Pixar’s library, Marvel’s IPs, and the entire Star Wars franchise.

*with exception of anything Disney has chosen to remove due to Disney’s problematic issue with foul, racist, and controversy animations. Personally I believe they should still be available due to the historic nature of many of these films. But I also know that Disney+ is geared primarily to children, and parents may not want these cartoons shown.

Disney has now completely reshaped its revenue stream with all of these decisions. In 1990, Disney relies solely on its animation department to keep the business afloat. Now, Disney has transferred into the role of a passive distributor. Now they rely on the fact that people will stream content which is already produced. Everything on Disney+ costs Disney nothing. They only reap benefits from viewers.

Without the inherent need to produce quality content for survival, Disney has become a spoiled king, looking out at his land, wanting more, unknowing of the disease spreading among his people. The lack of motivation has lead Disney to play it safe, and make films which play well by statistics. In other words Disney is ruled by the old policy of LOC- Least Objectionable Content.

Entertainment, specifically animation, should push the boundaries and be daring. But as it stands today, Disney has no motivation to be dating. For reference, see Treasure Planet.

Until Disney feels the same pain as the late 80s Disney dark ages, they will not grow. Unfortunately, this means many more years of “live action” Disney remakes, and many more Star Wars movies which lack any resemblance to the Lucasfilms originals.

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