Bob Iger said in an interview Tuesday that more Disney theatrical releases may wind up on the company’s new streaming service Disney+ after movies like “Artemis Fowl” and “Onward” have already moved onto the platform.
Iger said that many of Disney’s major tentpole films will remain in theaters at later dates, and last week Disney revealed an overhaul of its theatrical slate, shifting titles like “Mulan,” “Black Widow” and “Jungle Cruise” to adjust to the closures caused by the coronavirus. “Artemis Fowl” however was bumped from its late May release to Disney+ for an unspecified date.
So while many films on Disney’s theatrical slate already have new slots on the calendar, Iger left open the possibility that more changes could be on the way.
“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,” Iger told Barron’s on Tuesday.
Disney already slated the next wave of Marvel movies up through 2022, and other major 20th Century Studios titles like Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” and Ridley Scott’s “The Last Duel” remained unchanged from their December 2020 release dates. And yet several titles on the 20th Century and Searchlight Pictures side remain without release dates, those being “Antlers,” “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” “The New Mutants” and “The Woman in the Window.” Pixar’s “Soul” is the next film currently slated for theatrical release on June 19.
The movie release slate though wasn’t the only change Iger hinted might be on the way. He also said Disney might consider taking guests’ temperatures when they arrive at Disneyland and Disney World theme parks, both of which are closed indefinitely.
“One of the things that we’re discussing already is that in order to return to some semblance of normal, people will have to feel comfortable that they’re safe,” Iger said. “Some of that could come in the form ultimately of a vaccine, but in the absence of that it could come from basically, more scrutiny, more restrictions. Just as we now do bag checks for everybody that goes into our parks, it could be that at some point we add a component of that that takes people’s temperatures, as a for-instance.”
Iger added that the company has been studying China’s response to reopening public places and compared this instance to the last time Disneyland closed its doors, following 9/11.
“So we’ve asked ourselves the question, let’s prepare for a world where our customers demand that we scrutinize everybody. Even if it creates a little bit of hardship, like it takes a little bit longer for people to get in,” he said. “Just as the case after 9/11 where people ultimately lived with the notion that in order for them to enter a building, if you’re in an office building you have to show a picture ID.”
The company recently announced that Iger would forgo a salary and that furloughs would begin for employees starting on April 19. Iger said that the coronavirus pandemic is the biggest challenge he’s faced as an executive, but that Disney is approaching the crisis both optimistically and realistically.
“We know they have always been a place for people to go, whether it’s a movie or a park or ESPN, to enjoy their lives and to distance themselves from whatever daily issues they may be facing,” Iger said. “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.”
Read Iger’s full interview with Barron’s here.