Disney Going Back To Its Roots: Big Theme-Park Budgets, Storytelling

While Disney and Bob Iger wade through its current streaming TV mess, Iger continues to push Disney back to its roots: create good intellectual property and let the creative Disney guys do their work. 

It's the mothership of the company: its theme parks.

This is why Disney plans to spend $60 billion over ten years to develop new characters, story arcs, and ultimately franchises -- doubling spending on its theme parks -- all to say the company is not entirely about its streaming and TV operations and their profitability and revenue future.

That's what good companies do. They don't abandon the focus -- to go back to where they started. This is why theme parks -- after the pandemic -- continue to thrive.



Remember, this is what Iger said when he came back to the company -- that he wanted to return focus and responsibility to its creative executives, which everything is built around.

Iger said in November in a memo upon his return: “I fundamentally believe that storytelling is what fuels this company, and it belongs at the center of how we organize our businesses." He also said that streaming TV and the direct-to-consumer elements would remain, of course.

Under Iger, Disney went on a buying spree: Lucasfilm, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Entertainment, and most recently, half of 20th Century Fox.

But all this was not to displace core Disney creativity -- rather to build on it. Recently the Pixar's theatrical animated  “Elemental” -- in August -- was its most original film in years, according to critics. After a slow start, it became a major hit overseas.

More importantly, Disney Parks continue to be a hub of real-time, real-life experiences that entertainment content can touch and feel.

Today's digital media world is all well and good for immediate access. But entertainment consumers will always demand more: longer-lasting stuff.

This is not all pure and easy -- for the company or for consumers. Older parents might feel sick after a tougher-than-expected Disney roller-coaster ride with the kids, but they will still have a ball -- and make fun of you for hours afterwards.

Is that what we want from our entertainment? Short-term media indigestion but long memories and laughter years later? Look for story lines -- on screen and elsewhere -- we can remember.

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