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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Upping the Disney Shopping Game: Bye to Shop Disney Parks App; Hello to Designer Mouse Ears; and Shopping Immersion at Galaxy’s Edge

by Beth Keating
News
DisneyBizJournal.com
May 19, 2019

If you find yourself working just to support your Disney habit, there are some online changes coming your way… although they probably won’t have much effect in the long run.  On May 31st, Disney is closing down the Shop Disney Parks app, which helps guests purchase park specific merchandise.  How will you find those cute, trendy Mickey tees you should have bought before you left the Magic Kingdom and didn’t?  Not to worry… parks merch is already available at ShopDisney.com. Those guests using My Disney Experience (MDE) can also access the goodies through their mobile devices.  (As of right now, it appears that Annual Passholders and DVC members will need to shop via MDE to access their discounts. Individual experiences have been varied on that front.)


“Ears” to You

First there were color trend ears like Rose Gold and Potion Purple.  Then came Dole Whip, Minnie donut, and Aladdin-inspired varieties. You can now rock your Disney look in the parks with a whole new set of upscale ears. Beginning May 24th, Disney will be debuting a limited release series of specialty mouse ears.  Created by fashion designers, celebrities and artists such as Betsey Johnson, Vera Wang, Heidi Klum, ALEX AND ANI, and even a few Disney Imagineers (including Joe Rhode!), these distinctive collaborations will include a new design each month. Look for them at select Disney park shops as well as ShopDisney.com.   

Galaxy’s Edge

Let’s play a little game for a moment:  Close your eyes and imagine yourself in your favorite theme park. (I’m looking at you, Magic Kingdom!) What did you see first? Did you imagine yourself screaming over the tracks of your favorite thrill ride?  Splashing down soaking wet from your plunge over a thundering waterfall? Escaping a Yeti? Searching for a new baby giraffe from the back of a bouncy jeep? Maybe waiting for the cornball punchline as you visit “the backside of water”? Munching happily on a pretzel the size of your head while you wait for the fireworks to start with thousands of your closest friends?

Chances are, your first thoughts are not about hitting the stores for some cool new merch, although we seem to take plenty of that home with us when we board our return flights.  (Admittedly, some of us fly down with empty suitcases, knowing they won’t be empty on the return flight...just sayin’.)

With the opening of Galaxy’s Edge rapidly approaching, shopping as a theme park sport is taking front and center. With only one of the land’s two rides up and running for the opening months, exploring the market venues on the planet will be a fundamental part of the sights and sounds of this galactic outpost.  In true Disney fashion, the shopping possibilities on Batuu has been raised to meteoric levels. Yes, there will be grab-and-go products to take back, but many of the encounters are one-of-a-kind opportunities (a few with their own special effects, upcharges and tour guides), and others will have Jedi collectors salivating.  And while there have been personalized shopping opportunities at Disney in the past (we bought a family crest in Epcot one year, as well as annual monogrammed Christmas ornaments - does that count?), Black Spire’s immersive culture is serving up a previously unheard of tailored version of shopping.  Build your own lightsaber by hand at Savi’s, invent an interactive droid from parts you specifically choose at an assembly station at the Droid Depot, or haggle for an exceptional find at Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities. Perhaps the younglings in your party prefer something a bit more cute and cuddly – visit The Creature Stall. (Okay, maybe not all the finds there are cute…. or cuddly for that matter.) From clothing retailers to toy shops, the choices will be part of the journey. 

The most interesting part about shopping on Batuu is the fact that the merchandise comes with its own backstory. No two visitors will come out with exactly the same memory. Hunting for the perfect souvenir will be part of the distinctive experience.  This is not a land filled with the ubiquitous-exit-through-the-gift-shop-after-the-ride formula, where one finds the same items over and over again. Indeed, the shops themselves are an integral part of the storytelling and scene-setting, even if you never drop a dollar (or a Republic credit) with any of the proprietors, though we find that highly unlikely. Many of the products for sale in Black Spire have been designed specifically for this venue, and you will be unable to find them at your stores back home.  The detailing and Imagineering promises to be mind-blowing. Even the handmade clothing options that will be for sale are based on the original wardrobe costumes from the movies. So, if you see it and want it, grab it! This might be your only chance. As Yoda would say, “Do or do not…”

If you’d like a more detailed look at the various experiences and merchandise, here’s a link to a great article from Brady MacDonald at Blooloop on the upcoming shops at https://blooloop.com/features/star-wars-galaxys-edge-merchandise/.

Galaxy’s Edge opens May 31stin Disneyland, and August 29th at Hollywood Studios in Disney World.

Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.

From Ray Keating: If you enjoyed this article, can I ask you to take at least one (preferably more) of the following steps?

1) Please join the Pastor Stephen Grant novels and short stories email list, and get the upcoming short story, THE TRAITOR, for free! Sign up here.

2) Buy one of my Pastor Stephen Grant novels or short stories at Amazon.com or signed books at www.raykeatingonline.com

3) Become a member of the Pastor Stephen Grant Fellowship, and get all kinds of FREE stuff, including each new book in the Pastor Stephen Grant series. Check out the levels and benefits here.



Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Disney Taking Full Control of Hulu

by Ray Keating
News/Analysis
DisneyBizJournal.com
May 14, 2019

The Walt Disney Company and Comcast have announced that they’ve arrived at a deal for Disney to take full control of Hulu.


Disney will immediately be calling all of the shots at Hulu, while Comcast’s 33 percent ownership in Hulu will be sold as early as January 2024 for fair market value independently assessed, with Disney guaranteeing a minimum value for all of Hulu being $27.5 billion. That would put Comcast's share at a minimum of just over $9 billion.

Recently, AT&T sold its share the streaming service back to Hulu.

Comcast’s NBCUniversal content and channels will continue on Hulu until late 2024, with NBCUniversal able to terminate its content agreement in three years’ time, and in one year’s time, NBCUniversal will able to run its own streaming service including certain content licensed to Hulu in exchange for a reduced fee paid by Hulu.

As DisneyBizJournal noted in November 2018and again in February of this year, this fits with Disney’s overall streaming strategy: “And then there’s the fact that Disney will own 60 percent of Hulu once the Fox deal is completed, and the company has made it known that it’s open to a deal with AT&T and Comcast to acquire the rest of Hulu. As DisneyBizJournal.com has noted before, it looks like Hulu will be home for Disney’s R or more R-like fare.”

This was further confirmed when Disney recently announced that live-action series “Ghost Rider” and “Helstrom” will be coming to Hulu.

And by the way, consider the monthly price points for Disney’s Disney+ and Hulu - $6.99 and $5.99 (with ads), respectively – versus the monthly cost of the most popular Netflix package being $12.99. Hmmm, a subscriber will be able to purchase both Disney+ and Hulu for a penny less per month than the price of Netflix’s most popular package. Ah, the joys of competition for consumers.

(Correction: An earlier version of this article mistakenly had the value of Comcast's share of Hulu stated at a minimum of $27.5 billion, while in reality, that is the minimum value for Hulu in total agreed to by Disney.)

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

If you enjoyed this article, can I ask you to take at least one (preferably more) of the following steps?

1) Please join the Pastor Stephen Grant novels and short stories email list, and get the upcoming short story, THE TRAITOR, for free! Sign up here.

2) Buy one of my Pastor Stephen Grant novels or short stories at Amazon.comor signed books at www.raykeatingonline.com

3) Become a member of the Pastor Stephen Grant Fellowship, and get all kinds of FREE stuff, including each new book in the Pastor Stephen Grant series. Check out the levels and benefits here.


Monday, May 13, 2019

Equating Disney to Thanos ... Seriously?

by Ray Keating
Commentary
DisneyBizJournal.com
May 13, 2019

Is the Walt Disney Company the corporate equivalent of the evil Thanos from the Avengers films? Well, at least one professor writing in the Washington Post thinks so.



When it comes to how markets and business work, a seemingly endless stream of economic ignorance spews forth in newspapers and across the Internet. That was the case with this recent Washington Post opinion piece – provocatively titled “The Avengers are the heroes of ‘Endgame,’ but Disney was the villain all along” – which is long on hyperbole, and very short on economic thought, substance and evidence.

In one of my careers, I’ve worked as an economist in public policy circles for about 30 years. As a result, I’ve grown used to silly economics being tossed around not just by politicians, but too often by fellow economists. The Post article was written by Dan Hassler-Forest, who is listed as “an author and public speaker on media franchises, cultural theory, and political economy. He lives in the Netherlands and works as assistant professor in the Media Studies department of Utrecht University.” From that description, it’s unclear if Mr. Hassler-Forest has any actual training in or extensive time studying economics, or if he just spouts off on matters related to the economy.

What is clear from this article is that Hassler-Forest has a taste for trying to make points without much evidence, yet with a great deal of over-the-top rhetoric. Let’s consider key examples.

First, keep in mind that in the two Avengers movies – Infinity War and Endgame – Thanos wipes out half of life in the universe, and then later on decides he’s going to wipe everything out and start over. But Hassler-Forest asserts:

What goes unspoken, though, is the degree to which Marvel’s corporate parent, Walt Disney Co., has practically accomplished the very thing Thanos set out to do — not in the fictional world, but in our own very real one. With this film, the company demonstrates how totally and irreversibly it has rewritten the global media landscape in its own image. Indeed, Disney has far more in common with Thanos than it ever did with any of the Avengers...

Wow. That’s pretty heavy. But perhaps we can just forgive Hassler-Forest for some excess in terms of style in order to grab the reader’s attention, and he’ll soon serve up the substance. Well, unfortunately, no, that never happens. Instead, we just get more overheated rhetoric without depth.

A bit later, Hassler-Forest writes:

Where Thanos arrogantly declares himself inevitable, this film’s success was never a question for Disney. The Mouse House, once the successful purveyor of a particular kind of children’s entertainment, has transformed itself into the 21st century’s autocratic titan of entertainment franchises, thanks in part to its ongoing acquisition of companies such as Lucasfilm, Fox and, of course, Marvel.

Hmmm, what to do with this? Well, first, there’s the idea that the movie’s “success was never a question for Disney.” Really? It seems that with this point and others, Hassler-Forest is blissfully unaware of the risks involved in bringing high-cost movies to the public. Indeed, Disney itself has a long line of massive, expensive flops, including recent examples like Dumbo and Solo, which, of course, is part of the formerly surefire-hit Star Wars universe. Even a cursory review of the movie business – and any other private industry – makes clear that there is no such thing as an “autocratic titan.” Instead, even the largest businesses are subject to the decisions of consumers. Sometimes consumers love your movie, as is the case with Endgame, and sometimes they don’t. 

Next comes a rhetorical flourish from Hassler-Forest that, well, makes no sense whatsoever:

Disney’s brutal ascent maps improbably well onto the cinematic franchise that has helped fuel its rise. In the first three Soviet-like “Phases” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a colorful variety of superheroes assemble to fight off “devourer of worlds” Thanos.

The “brutal ascent” that Hassler-Forest refers to is Disney’s purchasing of such IP as Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, Fox, and the Muppets (yes, he threw in the Muppets!), along with mentioning “Disney princesses.” I’m not really sure what’s “brutal” about that. And somehow the phases of the Marvel Universe movies are “Soviet-like?” Is this some strained link to the communist Soviet Union’s five-year plans? Who knows? And apparently, from the Post’sperspective, who cares? It’s a spicy read that, I guess, the editors agree with in the end?

But there’s more.

Again, the piece descends into Hassler-Forest’s ideology of all-encompassing corporate power:

Disney’s swelling assemblage of franchises and brands is the only Infinity Gauntlet that matters in the current entertainment landscape, offering it power enough to determine how many of us spend the vast majority of our free time.

And then there’s the following:

But it is increasingly clear that a single company is defining the rules of the game. It’s a transformation of the media industries that gives truly unprecedented power to a small handful of horizontally and vertically integrated companies, with Disney incrementally fortifying and consolidating its position of unquestioned market leadership.

And how about this tidbit?

... we willingly surrender ourselves to the media corporations that seek to own the entirety of our media landscape. As the success of “Endgame” demonstrates, Disney can now snap its fingers, and an entire global entertainment culture reshapes itself to the company’s every whim. 

Golly? Apparently, Hassler-Forest missed the memo that technology – the combination of digital, computer and telecommunications innovations – has vastly expanded opportunities for creators and choices for consumers in recent times, to the point that the movie business and traditional Hollywood is being forced to change and adapt at a previously unimagined rate. In reality, one can argue that companies like Disney have to be more innovative and responsive to consumers than ever before. That’s exciting news to which Mr. Hassler-Forest seems completely oblivious – or could it just be that he chooses to ignore such developments because they contradict his assumptions about evil corporations running the world?

Disney is “defining the rules of the game” and snapping its fingers to reshape “an entire global entertainment culture”? I’m guessing that Disney CEO Bob Iger would be surprised to hear this.

For good measure, the arrogance of Hassler-Forest is striking in his statement that Disney has the power to “determine how many of us spend the vast majority of our free time.” Moving beyond Hassler-Forest’s missing the realities of how people are actually spending their time and money – again, as illustrated by the decline of network television and Hollywood’s ills beyond the superhero genre (which also is not exempt from movie bombs) – the assumption clearly is that individuals are too stupid to make their own choices about what they like and dislike. Other than Hassler-Forest, the rest of us, apparently, are just a bunch of dopes being manipulated by Disney and other big companies. 

Or, does Hassler-Forest have an even more demeaning view of the public? After all, he also writes:

But as with Thanos’s master plot, these supposed “endings” only prime us for our next fix. For a brief period, the cultural conversation will be focused on the increasingly rare experience of a massively shared moment of narrative closure — before we move on to the next set of industrially produced episodes.

This would seem to indicate that Hassler-Forest sees the public as the equivalent of drug addicts, to be manipulated or controlled by corporations cranking out fixes in industrial fashion. It all sounds rather, well, grim, not to mention Marxian.

In the end, a movie like Avengers: Endgame increasingly is the exception as our entertainment culture becomes more and more fractionalized. Consumers have ever-expanding choices from a wider array of creators than ever before in the history of mankind. The entertainment business is becoming increasingly entrepreneurial, innovative and competitive. There, of course, will be big businesses that appeal to large audiences, but there increasingly are smaller creative ventures that find market niches, and wind up thriving as well. 

Thankfully, there is no Thanos controlling the entertainment business. Instead, the entertainment business is being reshaped and transformed by innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. I think Captain America, for example, would appreciate this economic reality.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

If you enjoyed this article, can I ask you to take at least one (preferably more) of the following steps?

1) Please join the Pastor Stephen Grant novels and short stories email list, and get the upcoming short story, THE TRAITOR, for free! Sign up here.

2) Buy one of my Pastor Stephen Grant novels or short stories at Amazon.com or signed books at www.raykeatingonline.com.

3) Become a member of the Pastor Stephen Grant Fellowship, and get all kinds of FREE stuff, including each new book in the Pastor Stephen Grant series. Check out the levels and benefits here.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Ugly Trade Policy Means Things Could Get Ugly for U.S. Businesses, Including Disney

by Ray Keating
Analysis/Commentary
DisneyBizJournal.com
May 10, 2019

Trade – indeed, free trade – matters. It matters to American consumers. It matters to U.S. businesses and their workers. And it matters to the Walt Disney Company.

In an August 2018 article, DisneyBizJournal.com gave a rundown on trade, and why protectionist measures – imposed and threatened – are negatives for the U.S. economy, and for Disney. As we noted:

History and economics make clear that advancing free trade makes for sound policymaking. The way to deal with China, for example, and its challenges is not to hurt U.S. consumers and businesses with tariffs and a trade war, but instead to constructively engage with the Chinese in an effort to work toward a free trade agreement.

So, protectionism is a wildcard working against sustained strong economic growth. And it certainly is troubling for a company like Disney. Obviously, any barriers to and reductions in trade will hurt The Walt Disney Company given its sizeable international footprint. 

Indeed, near the start of the Trump administration, Disney CEO Robert Iger warned, “An all-out trade war with China would be damaging to Disney’s business and to business in general. It’s something I think we have to be very careful about.”

And if a trade war expands, it must be recognized that U.S. intellectual property industries, including the entertainment business, rank among our top exporters, and could come to be a target of retaliation. In addition, Disney will be hurt at home due to increased costs resulting from U.S. tariffs.

Unfortunately, things just seem to keep getting uglier in terms of trade policy, with the latest problem being President Trump’s increasing tariffs on a wide array of goods coming from China from 10% to 25%, with threats of more tariffs (i.e., taxes on imports) being imposed.

Politicians often make silly statements about free trade, how trade works, and tariffs – either out of ignorance, due to political pandering, or both. But during much of the post-World-War-II era, the U.S. fortunately led the globe toward reducing government barriers that raise costs for individuals and businesses to trade across borders. However, that started to change during the Obama administration, with the U.S. sitting on the trade sidelines during much of President Obama’s time in office, and then the U.S. turning hostile toward freer trade under President Trump.

Moments like these point to the reason why I originally became an economist, and why, much more recently, I started doing the “Free Enterprise in Three Minutes Podcast.” Following are episodes dealing with trade. Please take a few minutes to listen, and if you see value, please pass on to others, including any politicians you might know.



Link to the general “Free Enterprise in Three Minutes Podcast” page.

And here are direct links to trade topics...

Free Trade Rocks!

Protectionism Sucks!

The Real Deal on the Trade Deficit

Mercantilism – Wrong in the 18th Century, Wrong Today

Trade, Investment and the Balance of Payments

In the end, the protectionist agenda of the Trump administration ironically works directly against the administration’s tax and regulatory policies. Namely, while the tax and regulatory policies have been pro-growth – by reducing governmental burdens on entrepreneurs, businesses and workers – the Trump trade agenda has been explicitly anti-growth by increasing such burdens.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels, with three books - Reagan Country: A Pastor Stephen Grant NovelHeroes and Villains: A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story and Shifting Sands: A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story – published in 2018. In addition, the second edition of Warrior Monk: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel was published in January 2019. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Disney Movie Schedule for the Next Few Years

by Ray Keating
News/Analysis
DisneyBizJournal.com
May 8, 2019

Just in case you were wondering what the Walt Disney Company had in mind for movie releases – especially with the Fox acquisition – for the next few years, they served up a film slate covering the rest of 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, and even some items going all the way to 2027.



2027? Geez, I don’t want to think about how old I’ll be in 2027.

Anyway, what’s most interesting in this line-up of 63 movies?

First, after Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives on December 20, 2019, we won’t see another Star Wars movie in theaters until December 2022, followed by another Star Wars entry December 2024 and one in December 2026. But don’t worry, Disney+ streaming will have Star Wars offerings to keep us happy – presumably.

Second, Avatar 2 has been pushed back yet another year – to December 17, 2021. That is scheduled to be followed by three more Avatar movies hitting theaters in December of 2023, 2025 and 2027. My guess? Don’t count on more than one sequel to Avatar. The original movie made big bucks because of its ground-breaking special effects at the time, not because of the characters or story. Indeed, how many people can name any character from Avatar? Disney handled “Pandora” in Animal Kingdom smartly. It’s a beautiful area, with two wonderful rides – “Flight of Passage” and “Na’vi River Journey” – and people can enjoy it without any knowledge of Avatar.

The best case for Disney, of course, is that Cameron actually comes up with a good story for Avatar 2, and that builds the brand. Worst case, Avatar 2 becomes a massively expensive bomb, and it hurts the Animal Kingdom park. Most likely? Avatar 2 muddles through, and “Pandora” separates itself even more from the films, and continues to attract people.

Third, Spider-Man: Far From Home, being released on July 2, 2019, is not on this list because it’s a Sony movie, but it’s still part of the MCU. As for Marvel films where Disney is in full control, after Dark Phoenix this June and The New Mutants in April 2020 presumably wrap up the Fox Marvel efforts, Marvel fans will then have to wait until May 1, 2020, for the next MCU film, followed by entries in November 2020, three in 2021, and three in 2022. No official titles on any of those were included, but we pretty much know that we’ll be seeing Guardians of the Galaxy 3, Black Panther 2, Dr. Strange 2 and a Black Widow prequel.

Fourth, Pixar fans get Toy Story 4 on June 21 of this year, followed by Onward in March 2020, and untitled films schedule for June of 2020, 2021, and 2022.

Fifth, Steven Spielberg is on the Disney slate for West Side Story in December 2020, and anIndiana Jones movie, with Harrison Ford, on July 9, 2021.

Sixth, and finally, from the more traditional “Disney” line, among the films coming are a live-action The Lion King (July 19, 2019), Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (October 18, 2019), Frozen 2 (November 22, 2019), live-action Mulan (March 27, 2020), Artemis Fowl (March 29, 2020), Jungle Cruise (July 24, 2020), and Cruella (December 23, 2020).

With any movie line-up, there will be mega-hits, hits, misses and bombs, but taken as a whole, this is an impressive list from the massive studio that is Disney.


Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels, with three books - Reagan Country: A Pastor Stephen Grant NovelHeroes and Villains: A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story and Shifting Sands: A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story – published in 2018. In addition, the second edition of Warrior Monk: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel was published in January 2019. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.


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Monday, May 6, 2019

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Saturday, May 4, 2019

Disney-Related Streaming Recommendations for Your Weekend

assembled by Beth Keating
DisneyBizJournal.com
May 4, 2019

Here are a couple Disney-related video streaming recommendations to check out over the weekend.

ResortTV1
You may have seen our recent post on the creative technology that ResortTV1 is bringing to the table in the live streaming arena.  They are developing new tech that allows them to seamlessly switch not only from park location to park location within Disney World, but from coast to coast, transferring live instantly from the World on Florida's east coast to the Land in California on the West Coast.  Now, ResortTV1 is bringing you another coast to coast adventure, and we can't wait to see it!  On Friday, May 31st, ResortTV1 will be live streaming the opening day of Galaxy's Edge in Disneyland, followed by a live stream on August 29th of the opening of Galaxy's Edge in Disney World. 


On May 3rd, ResortTV1 also hit a milestone in becoming number one on live trending (they hit more than 2100 viewers watching live that evening). 

Water Rescue Equipment
This week, Rob at "Passport to the Parks" speculated on the appearance of some new equipment at Disney World, providing great multi-day video of the custom pieces that are slated to be used for water rescue evacuations for the upcoming gondola systems over Hourglass Lake. (Water rescues for the new system have been an ongoing source of concern and speculation for future riders.)  If you've been following the gondola progress at all, you'll know that Rob has been ahead of the story with interesting, exclusive video on the gondolas since the very beginning.  We have a link to the newest video, but if you are interested in the gondola system (slated to open by Fall 2019), it is worth keeping an eye on Rob's videos.  He doesn't just provide unique video of the systems and their unveilings, but offers a few technical explanations of the operations along the way, in a very conversational and visitor-friendly format.  He's certainly become "the gondola guy!" 



Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels, with three books - Reagan Country: A Pastor Stephen Grant NovelHeroes and Villains: A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story and Shifting Sands: A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story – published in 2018. In addition, the second edition of Warrior Monk: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel was published in January 2019. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Sinclair Reportedly Winner in Bidding for Sports Networks from Disney

by Ray Keating
News
DisneyBizJournal.com
May 2, 2019

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Sinclair Broadcast Group has won the bidding contest for the 21 regional sports networks that the Walt Disney Company acquired in the Fox deal. Disney was required to turnaround and sell the sports networks in order to gain approval for the Fox deal from the U.S. Department of Justice.


The price reportedly tops $10 billion. The Journal also noted, “For Sinclair, already the nation’s biggest owner of local television stations, the deal would instantly make it a force in cable programming.”

Sinclair and Amazon collaborated to purchase the other sports network – the YES Network – being sold by Disney. The New York Yankees remain a partner in YES.

One of the losers in the bidding was Liberty Media Corp., which was teaming up with Major League Baseball.

This $10 billion-plus sale price, plus the reported $3.5 billion for YES, as DisneyBizJournal.com previously noted, is down notably from assorted estimates that projected a sales price for the RSNs in the $20-$22 billion neighborhood. 

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels, with three books - Reagan Country: A Pastor Stephen Grant NovelHeroes and Villains: A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story and Shifting Sands: A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story – published in 2018. In addition, the second edition of Warrior Monk: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel was published in January 2019. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.



Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Disney Hollywood Studios at 30 and What Lies Ahead

by Ray Keating
Analysis
DisneyBizJournal.com
April 30, 2019

I admit it. Disney Hollywood Studios has long been my favorite park at Walt Disney World, to the bewilderment of some family members. So, I understand the act of celebrating the 30thanniversary of Hollywood Studios on May 1st.



When it opened on May 1, 1989, it was called Disney-MGM Studios, with Disney cutting a deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to use its logo and name. While the idea for the park had been in the works, it got fast tracked by then-CEO Michael Eisner with the announcement that Universal Studios Florida was going to be a thing. In fact, Disney-MGM Studios opened a year before Universal. The MGM deal came to an end in January 2008, with the park renamed Disney Hollywood Studios.

On May 1, 1989, the park only had two rides – The Great Movie Ride and the Studio Backlot Tour. However, the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular opened in August of that year, and four months later came Star Tours. A couple of years later, Muppet-Vision 3D opened. 

But a big jump forward came in 1994, with Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, the new Sunset Boulevard, and reconstruction of the Theater of the Stars. Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith arrived in 1999.

Other changes, of course, occurred. But the next major leap was the opening of Toy Story Land on June 30, 2018. That was the first step in a dramatic series of upcoming changes. Toy Story Land in fact was the largest expansion in Disney Hollywood Studios’ history. As Disney noted at the time: 

“After months of anticipation, guests can now enjoy everything Toy Story Land has to offer – on a daily basis! They can step into the land and explore the fun that Woody, Jessie and many other “Toy Story” friends are having in Andy’s backyard. Guests can glide along with Slinky aboard Slinky Dog Dash, a family coaster Andy built from his Mega Coaster Play Kit that whisks guests high above and around a scattering of Andy’s favorite toys – including Wheezy and Rex. Families can take a spin on Alien Swirling Saucers, play their way through Toy Story Mania!, or stop to enjoy tasty snacks – like Raspberry Lunchbox Tarts and S’mores French Toast Sandwiches – at Woody’s Lunch Box.”

A new nighttime show, “Wonderful World of Animation,” opens on May 1, 2019. Disney describes it this way:

    This excitement-packed projection show will take you on an incredible journey through more than 90 years of Disney and Pixar animation. 
    Watch in wonder as the fa├žade of the Chinese Theatre is magically transformed—displaying this stirring tribute to animation. Behold spectacular sequences celebrating themes like magic, family, adventure, romance and friendship. Each theme is brought to life through unforgettable moments from beloved films—like Sleeping Beauty, The Incredibles, Coco and many more.
    Of course, since we can never lose sight of the fact that it was all started with a mouse, the show fittingly begins and ends with the one-and-only Mickey.

And most anticipated is the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge on August 29, 2019, with the “Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run” ride, to be followed later in the year by “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.” No date has been set for the opening of the immersive Star Wars hotel.

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will be coming to Hollywood Studios in 2020 as well.

Also, on April 30, 2019, Disney announced that a new rodeo-themed table-service restaurant will be coming to Toy Story Land.

So, in a sense, the celebration of Disney Hollywood Studios turning 30 is not just about marking the past 30 years, but it’s also very much about the many attractions and events on the way. Indeed, it’s pretty clear that the best days for Hollywood Studios are in front of us. 

One way to join in the Disney Hollywood Studios celebration would be to tune in to the Disney livestream of the May 1stcelebration, with Disney noting that “we’ll have an exciting ‘look ahead’ at some of the amazing experiences coming to the park as we transform Disney’s Hollywood Studios into a place where you can live your own adventures in your favorite stories.” The livestream can be found at 9:55 EST on Wednesday, May 1, “on the front page of the Disney Park Blog.”

Disney Hollywood Studios arguably stands at the center of the massive investment Disney is making in Walt Disney World, and at least in terms of this particular park, Disney is hitting on all thrusters.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels, with three books - Reagan Country: A Pastor Stephen Grant NovelHeroes and Villains: A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story and Shifting Sands: A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story published in 2018. In addition, the second edition of Warrior Monk: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel was published in January 2019. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.


Monday, April 29, 2019

“Avengers: Endgame” by the Numbers

by Ray Keating
Analysis
DisneyBizJournal.com
April 29, 2019

Avengers: Endgame ranks as the superhero of superhero movies. (See the DisneyBizJournal spoiler-free review here.) In fact, at the box office, it could turn out to be the superhero of all movies. That’s what the numbers – indeed, pretty much all of the numbers – are telling us. 


Consider the following bits of data about the film:

• Avengers: Endgame is the 22ndmovie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe stretching back to 2008.

• Topping an estimated $350 million, Endgame has set the record for opening weekend domestic (i.e., North America) box office.

• The international opening weekend box office estimate of roughly $860 million is another record for Endgame.

• Therefore, the grand total opening weekend estimate of more than $1.2 billion, again, is the all-time record.

• According to Deadline.com, Disney spent an estimated $475 million to make and market Endgame.

• The Observer.com reports: “With Endgame, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has now seen 12 of its 22 entries (so 54 percent of them) open to at least $100 million domestic, an unfathomable rate of blockbuster consistency. Additionally, Endgame is the fourth film of the MCU’s past five entries to cross $1 billion worldwide and its eighth overall. Thirty-six percent of MCU movies have grossed in the 10 digits, and when Endgame concludes its run, Disney will boast 12 of the 20 highest-grossing films of all time.”

• Over at Rottentomatoes.comAvengers: Endgame has earned a 95% score among critics, and 92% among audiences.

• The latest tally from BoxOfficeMojo.com puts the total box office tally for all 22 MCU films at $19.8 billion ... and counting.

• TheWrap.com has noted that Endgame has broken 144 box office records, with the counting still proceeding.

Finally, Avatar was released in December 2009, and it earned $2.78 billion at the worldwide box office. In nominal dollars, that’s the record. Can Avengers: Endgame become the new number one? I think so in part because many people disliked the Avatar story but went to see it anyway for the breakthrough special effects. In contrast, the Avengers is a group of superheroes that most everyone can get behind, and Endgame is a great tale. I’m looking for Endgame to top $3 billion.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels, with three books - Reagan Country: A Pastor Stephen Grant NovelHeroes and Villains: A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story and Shifting Sands: A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story published in 2018. In addition, the second edition of Warrior Monk: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel was published in January 2019. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.