Disney CEO Bob Chapek Has An Interesting Plan To Expand The MCU To “next generation storytelling”, with Disney+ at the center of it all.
The MCU may have started exclusively in theaters with one to two releases a year, but the past few years have seen great strides have been made to evolve with the times. While part of this has come with an increase in annual content production, more attention has been given to Disney+ since the start of Phase 4 last year.
Not only did this make the House of Mouse streamer the home of exclusive MCU content with series, specials, and shorts, but it also created a one-stop-shop for fans to enjoy the franchise. Disney has already shown strong interest in evolving Disney+ beyond an ordinary streaming service, with exclusive merchandise releases recently coming into play.
But now that the MCU can be enjoyed at home, in theaters, and on the go with such varied content, what happens next? Disney has a bold plan to take its content to the next level in the years to come.
Disney’s plans for the next-gen MCU
Speaking on stage at the Paley Center for Media in New York City – via The Hollywood Reporter – Disney CEO Bob Chapek addressed the bold plan for how the MCU, Star Wars and other major franchises could grow in the future.
Chapek explained how they continue to watch Disney as “a lifestyle brand”, specifically referring to the company’s new adult Storyliving community in Palm Springs that targets those who “have more time and discretionary spending:”
“We increasingly see Disney as what it is already recognized as for the consumer: a lifestyle brand.”
The House of Mouse chief described Disney+ as the “center” of this objective with the aim of making it evolve “based on how you participate.” This customization seems to be a centerpiece of Disney’s goal to create “next generation storytelling”, which includes a new “a set of tools” to create unique and personal content experiences.
This plan will allow the likes of the MCU and Star Wars to create a “a higher level of storytelling, which is unique to you,” these tools being placed in the hands of the senior executives of these franchises:
“[We want to] put those tools in the hands of the Kathy Kennedys and the Kevin Feiges and Dana Waldens and really help them create that next level of storytelling, all your own.
As part of that plan, Disney aims to stay relevant as it prepares to celebrate its centennial next year. After all, Chapek thinks sticking to the old model would lead the House of Mouse to “extinguish:”
“If we strictly adhere to this old pattern, we know what’s going to happen, right? You become extinguished. And so our challenge inside Disney is always to try to respect the past and keep as much of the past as possible. But when the consumer tells you, it’s time to move on to something new and fresh. You must take this cue.
When asked if he thought theatrical blockbusters were really back after the pandemic, the CEO insisted they were “definitely back:”
“It’s hard to have an answer at the moment, but based on our observations, big blockbuster movies are definitely back. Beyond that, it gets sketchy.
Chapek went on to explain how the resurgence of blockbusters has been good for Disney while wondering if the movies in “other demographics” will be “never come back significantly:”
“That’s good for us, by the way, because most of our box office movies are these blockbusters, and whether it’s Lucas and Marvel and Pixar or Disney, that’s where we play. The other genres, other demographics are a bit more contested, and whether they’ll ever come back in a meaningful way, I think, is to be seen, and that’s why one of our distribution strategies is always flexibility.
The Disney boss explained that if these genres resurface, the company will be “more than happy” to bring these films back to theaters. But if not, Disney+ is now offering an alternate course to release these projects:
“If they come back, we will be more than happy to return to theaters as we have a long successful history of playing in more than one revenue stream, but if not, the good news is that we we now have a very large streaming company that we can go ahead and redirect that content to those channels.
How Disney plans to change Marvel and Star Wars
Clearly, Bob Chapek sees Disney+ as central to the future of the company’s next era of storytelling, as it offers new opportunities. And the Disney CEO certainly seems determined to place this new technology entirely in the hands of his individual studio heads to implement in their franchises as they see fit.
What is particularly interesting is the promise to develop tools to create “personalized content experiences”, whatever that may mean. Maybe Disney+ will one day bring something like Netflix Black Mirror: Bandersnatch to the service that allows viewers to make their own choices in Marvel and Star Wars stories.
Either way, expansion into animation, television, and specials is clearly not the end of the line in the MCU’s evolution plans. With these successful franchises spanning so many years, they will always have to evolve over time to stay relevant, and part of that comes from the use of modern technology.
Another way to do this would be through virtual reality, as viewers may one day be placed directly into the MCU canon stories. Of course, that would require some major innovation for Disney+ if the goal was for the streaming service to house these features, though that’s certainly possible.
Nonetheless, the future of the MCU is bright as Disney clearly intends to have the franchise at the center of its plans for many years to come. Marvel Studios’ Next Release Comes With Black Panther: Wakanda Forever which hits theaters on Friday, November 11.