Disney’s $16 Billion-Plus Bet: An Avalanche of New Content for Streaming – and Movie Theaters Too

”It’s not HBO Max that has to worry; it’s Netflix,“ a top agent says

After a brutal pandemic year, The Walt Disney Co. on Thursday came out swinging with a recovery plan based on an avalanche of new content distributed across all of its platforms — including movie theaters that have been battered by shutdowns this year. The company plans to accelerate the growth in streaming-first films and TV shows, spending up to $16 billion annually within four years on Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ in a drive to challenge category leader Netflix.

Disney watchers may have been expecting the company to adopt a strategy similar to the one rival WarnerMedia announced last week — diverting its entire 2021 slate of 17 feature films to its nascent streaming platform, HBO Max, on the same day as they open in theaters.

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Diane Haithman

Senior Entertainment Business Reporter • diane@thewrap.com • @dhaithman