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Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Iger Talks Disney and Coronavirus: Not Returning to Business as Usual

by Ray Keating
April 7, 2020

Barron’s published an interview with Disney Chairman Bob Iger today, with Iger answering questions about the company given the coronavirus outbreak and related economic downturn.

The full piece warrants reading, but here are a few points that caught my attention:

First, in terms of The Walt Disney Company’s position, Iger pointed out, “So I don’t mean to in any way suggest a this-too-shall-pass attitude, because this is obviously the biggest business interruption we’ve faced. But we know when it ends that we will have things for the public to enjoy and to escape to, maybe in ways they will appreciate more than they ever have.”

He later spoke about the firm’s financial position, noting that the company had the access to capital to keep it “more than solvent through a prolonged period.”

But most notable perhaps in the entire interview was Iger’s outlook on the future of the business and the business climate. He observed: “I don’t think we’re ever going to see a return to business as usual... Disney will take this opportunity to look for ways to run our businesses more efficiently when we come back. So what we’re doing is thinking, OK, as things start to return, one, what must we address in terms of making people feel safe, but secondly, what must we address in terms of running the company more efficiently, given what we believe business conditions will dictate.”

Second, as for re-opening after the coronavirus, Iger emphasized making people feel comfortable coming to the Disney parks, including the possibility of taking guests’ temperatures as part of the screening to enter the parks.

Third, regarding Disney movies, Iger highlighted that some films will wind up on Disney+ as opposed to theaters, as announced with Artemis Fowl. However, Iger made clear, “In terms of movies going ahead after Artemis, there may be a few more that we end up putting directly onto Disney+, but for the most part a lot of the big tentpole Disney films, we’ll simply wait for slots. In some cases we’ve announced new ones already, but later on in the calendar.”

Finally, regarding Disney+, Iger noted that he had expected success, but added that “it’s probably far more popular than we ever imagined it would be, in part because it’s a welcome relief and a great alternative in terms of entertainment, for people who don’t have access given all the restrictions.”

Again, read the entire article here.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution (now available at a deep discount) and the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

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