Bob Iger may have driven Disney to all-time highs at the box office, but in an interview on CNN+, the former CEO added his name to the list of skeptics who think the movie industry will never return to this. than she was before the COVID -19 pandemic.
“COVID has made people much more comfortable watching new media, app-based media at home,” Iger told CNN’s Chris Wallace in an interview for the network’s new streaming service. “While I don’t think it replicates the theater experience, it’s good enough.
“And when you consider what you have to do to get to the theater, which is drive there or drive there in some form and pay for transportation, parking, etc., sit in a big room with a lot of people, for some there is friction and it’s not worth it, ”he added.
While Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters have done well in theaters since theaters reopened, including “No Time to Die,” “The Batman” and record-breaking “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” movies aimed at a older audiences struggled to find ground as their key demographic stayed home amid COVID-19 concerns.
Disney witnessed this first-hand with its Oscar-winning film “West Side Story”, which failed to return its budget of $100 million at the box office and, along with most contenders for this year’s Oscars, performed poorly in theaters. On the family side, Disney’s “Encanto” did well during a month-long theatrical run in theaters last winter. But Iger’s successor Bob Chapek said his release on Disney+ was the “catalyst” that made him a cultural phenomenon.
Despite the pivot to streaming, Disney still keeps a firm foothold in theaters with its biggest franchises, as Marvel Studios’ upcoming sequels to “Doctor Strange” and “Black Panther” are expected to be pre-pandemic-level hits except A major spike in COVID infections is hurting customer confidence in cinema, and while it is still expected to attract significant attendance from young audiences. The studio is also promoting the Pixar summer movie “Lightyear” as a theatrical release after moving “Turning Red” to Disney+.
Iger thinks such films will still do well at the box office, but whenever COVID-19 really enters its endemic phase, the theatrical market will remain permanently diminished.
“I happen to think people will always want to go to the movies, certain movies, and they won’t want to go as much as they wanted to,” he said. “So I don’t think the company is going away. I think it is transforming and we are already seeing it. And I don’t think in a post-COVID world it will go back to what it was before. I think it’s contracting.
Iger’s full interview with Chris Wallace is available on CNN+.