Comic Book Brain

Disney approaches the crossroads

Summer of 2023

Disney's head honcho, Bob Iger, is bringing back old Disney executives from the past to help reshape the company's finances as it prepares to sell off some assets. These assets may include ESPN, the ABC broadcasting network, the FX cable channel, and rumors are circulating about other brand names in the Disney catalog. Disney's "earnings call" next week will be a critical event, with Iger set to face off with shareholders who may be angry over the recent nosedive in profitability from the Mouse House.

Meanwhile, a significant legal battle is ongoing between the state of Florida and the corporation around Walt Disney World. This theme park, which sits on a chunk of land ceded to the Disney Corporation seventy years ago as part of Walt Disney's mega-dream of building a futuristic housing development for Disney workers, has been a source of contention. The corporation has been able to exercise a fiefdom-level of control over the area (which extends far beyond the theme park), but the promised future-city was never built. As a result, the state is rescinding Disney's unusual level of control over this mini-country they've developed in the area.

This legal fight (Disney's motion to dismiss the legal action by the state of Florida was recently rejected by a judge) has turned into a cultural war involving more than just the unfinished Disney super-city. Epcot Center seems to be the only remnant of what was initially intended. This multi-level conflict now appears to include a clash of personalities between Disney and the Florida governor.

As Disney slows down superhero projects and reschedules what's already in progress—for example, Kraven the Hunter has been pushed from its October 2023 release date to August 2024—the impact on Marvel and the offerings on Disney+ (such as the expensive $212 million Secret Wars) are coming to a head. It's a crucial time for Disney, which has a lot of debt to pay off from its buying spree of other brands, to make decisions about what generates revenue and what serves merely as "vanity projects" to burnish the Disney name.

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Original Page July 2023