Former Disney CEO Bob Iger Talks Movie Theaters and Streaming – The Hollywood Reporter


Former Disney CEO Bob Iger in his first interview since stepping down as executive chairman of the company discussed the plight of movie theaters, competing with Netflix, and yes, the metaverse in a conversation with The New York Times‘Kara Swisher.

“Because I don’t work for Disney, I’m liberated, I can say anything about anyone,” Iger joked during the conversation, adding that he was reluctant to “isolate anyone.”

However, he had candid thoughts about the fate of movie theaters, which he believes will be forever altered by the pandemic and the rise of streaming services.

“I don’t think it’s death [of theatrical movies], I think it’s a serious injury that may not heal. Not fatal for some,” Iger said, adding that consumers “will be much more discerning about the movies they want to see away from home.”

“I think what you’re going to see is a lot less movies released on the big screen,” Iger told Swisher on the Time To balance Podcast.

Iger also touched on the rise of streaming and the push to get Disney into the space with Disney+. But he also discussed an epiphany he had regarding Netflix, which at one point owned the streaming rights to Disney movies.

“They were helping build their platform off the back of our movies…they deserve a lot of credit,” Iger said. “I woke up one day and thought, ‘We’re basically selling nuclear weapons technology to a third world country, and now they’re using it against us.'”

And so, Iger and Disney took over those rights and sought to create a new IP war chest. And when Rupert Murdoch called Iger and discussed selling Fox’s entertainment assets, Iger knew the deal would be necessary to compete in the streaming space.

“I thought at the time, knowing that we were going to launch Disney+ and get into the streaming business, that if we had National Geographic and The simpsons and Avatar and the whole library, that we would have the scale for [compete],” he said.

But he also expressed pessimism about big tech companies successfully competing with companies like Disney, despite their heavy investment in content.

“There’s no doubt that deep-pocketed tech companies, Apple being one great example, Amazon being another, have realized that if they have great IP, if they tell great stories, it will help their businesses,” Iger said. “I don’t mean to suggest that these are loss-making businesses, but they are in these businesses for other reasons.”

But as the tech world moves toward the next phase of the internet, what some call the “metaverse” and what Iger calls “Internet 3.0,” he believes Disney has a vital piece of the puzzle.

“To survive in an Internet 3.0 world, you need to have really compelling IP,” he said. “I think Internet 3.0, which will definitely be a more compelling experience, definitely more immersive and dimensional, there’s going to be a lot to that in terms of the future, call it a metaverse, I don’t think there’s going to be a metaverse , it will be dispersed. You can have an avatar, but you can go anywhere, and I think it is likely to turn into something real as an experience.

However, he acknowledged that the “toxic culture” on platforms like Twitter and Facebook could only get worse in this hypothetical future.

“I’m thinking of telling my kids that they should think about creating technological tools to moderate behavior in Internet 3.0,” Iger said. “Something Disney should be thinking about when talking about creating a metaverse itself is moderating and monitoring behavior.”

And he discussed his last retirement from the board, where The Hollywood Reporter‘s Kim Masters reported that he implored those in attendance not to become too reliant on data. His successor, Bob Chapek, relied on the data for his decision-making, although in a note earlier this month he said “storytelling excellence” remains a pillar of the company. .

“In a world and business inundated with data, it’s tempting to use data to answer all of our questions, including creative questions,” he said at the retreat. “I urge you all not to do this.”

Acknowledging the accuracy of the comments to Swisher, Iger expanded on these thoughts, saying that while it’s useful to know what people like about something after the fact, creative decisions should always be made based on a certain level of instinct.

“If we had tried to mine all the data we had at the time, to determine whether we should make a superhero movie that was about, essentially, an Afro-futuristic world with a black cast, the data would have said no. do that, and Black Panther would never have been done,” he said.


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