Bob Iger Outlines the Cautious Approach of Disney with its IPs

Disney CEO Bob Iger says the company still is being “very careful” with developing Star Wars feature films in the wake of Solo‘s soft box office, while Marvel is also getting a rethink in terms of how many sequels characters get.

In an appearance at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference, Iger was asked an open-ended question about the health of tentpole brands Lucasfilm, Marvel and Pixar, along with the main Disney brand. The exec, who returned to the corner office in November, built his reputation on engineering the acquisitions of those outside companies during his previous stint as CEO

In our zeal to grow global subs, I think we were off in terms of our pricing strategy, and we’re now starting to learn more about it and to adjust accordingly.” Iger also said Disney overall had a “disconnect” between what it was spending on content and how it was monetizing that — and that the company needs to become “more judicious” about content investments as production costs have skyrocketed.

In one of Iger’s biggest moves since coming back, last month Disney said it would eliminate 7,000 jobs in a mass layoff coming as part of an effort to slash $5.5 billion in costs. Disney is aiming for an annualized reduction of $3 billion in non-sports content costs. On Thursday, Iger said that goal is “achievable” although “not right away” because Disney has long-term commitments and that “support from the content side of our business is real and we will deliver it.”

With regard to Marvel, which has 7,000 characters — what Disney has to consider is not volume of output but “how often we go back to the well with certain characters,” Iger said. “Sequels typically work well for us. Do you need a third or fourth, for instance? Or is it time to turn to other characters?” Marvel will turn back to the Avengers franchise, “but with a whole different set of Avengers,” he said.

At a high level, Iger said that the goal is to focus on high-quality programming, calling out not only the core franchises, but also FX, which he praised as both a producer of content and as a brand.

“You know, there’s so much consumer choice right now, and it comes back to, What is differentiated?” Iger said. “That’s one thing obviously we have talked about, is those brands: Star Wars, Marvel and Disney and Pixar, for instance. But quality is also a differentiator.”

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