On Tuesday, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that the company was planning reboots of some beloved movie franchises from its newly acquired 20th Century Fox film library: “Home Alone,” “Cheaper by the Dozen,” “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and “Night at the Museum.”
But there was a twist: All of these will be developed not for theatrical release but as originals for the company’s upcoming Disney+ streaming service, which is set to launch on Nov. 12.
It seems that not all movie franchises are created equal. In a conference call Tuesday following the company’s release of disappointing second-quarter earnings — which it blamed in part on underwhelming box office for releases from the Fox film unit — Iger signaled that it’s thinking smaller about some franchises acquired in its $71.3 billion acquisition of Fox.
Disney is planning to mount big-screen sequels of James Cameron’s “Avatar” and is pursuing a new entry in the “Planet of the Apes” franchise, Iger said.
In addition, the company will develop previously Fox-based Marvel properties like X-Men and Deadpool under Marvel Studios honcho Kevin Feige — a new version of “Fantastic Four” was already announced at last month’s Comic-Con.
The Fox film business was a big drag on Disney’s fiscal third quarter, posting an operating loss of $170 million even as the rest of the company’s films increased 33% year-over-year to $3.8 billion.
The brunt of the loss was placed on the poor performance of the X-Men spinoff “Dark Phoenix,” which had a hefty production budget of $200 million not including marketing, and grossed $65.8 million domestically and $252.4 million worldwide.
“One of the biggest issues we faced in the quarter was the performance of the Fox film business,” Iger said during the call. “It was well below what it had been and well below what we thought it would be when we did the acquisition.” (The company had estimated $180 million in operating income from Fox films for the same quarter last year.)
Iger also noted that Fox film division head Emma Watts is taking steps to construct an all-new development slate, focusing on fewer film releases — at least theatrically.