Wednesday, October 3, 2018

If I Were Disney CEO Part 24 - Studio Entertainment (Film) Overview

As I transition between corporate units, from Parks and Resorts to Studio Entertainment, I wanted to preface the change with an overview post, similar to how I started the Parks and Resorts division.  The goal for this post is to outline overarching ideas and goals for the Studio Entertainment division as a whole and how that will impact decisions for each individual film studio.

Walt Disney Studios is currently the largest of the "Big 6," with 21.82% market share.  When the purchase of 20th Century Fox is finalized, the combined market share will jump to 34.74%, cementing Walt Disney Studios as the dominant player in Hollywood.  With a wide variety of studios under its belt, Disney literally has a studio for every demographic.  The challenge becomes ensuring that the studios as a unit are complementing and not competing with each other.  That becomes an issue of scheduling and purpose.  Scheduling is easier, purpose though can be elusive.

The overall strategy for Studio Entertainment will differ a little from Parks and Resorts, as there is more opportunity for acquisition, redevelopment, and rebranding in order to fully develop the studio's film slate.  Accordingly, I will be exploring all options.

As before, there are a few goals that carry through this division:
  • The primary goal is to cement each studio's unique identity.  To identify and finesse what makes a film from that studio. 
    • How does a Walt Disney Feature animation picture differ from a Pixar Animation feature and do we need both?  
    • What exactly is a Disney live action feature?  
    • What is a 20th Century Fox film?  
    • These basic questions must be answered and each studio must have a specific niche and purpose for existence.  Therefore, each entry in this portion of the series will have a specific thesis/purpose statement for the studio.
  • A secondary goal will be to identify additional studios that should be created or promoted to fill in gaps in the Disney theatrical film offering.  
    • Put another way, are there films that previously used to be "Disney" films that do not fit within the existing studio's mission statement.  
      • A prime example of this category of film would be the sports film.  Disney has a long history of sports stories, which do not clearly fit in with the existing studio structure.
  • A secondary goal is to bring useful storytelling tools and methods from the various studios and apply them to the whole unit as appropriate.
    • For example, it is my firm belief that each studio should have a chief creative head or heads and advocate(s), like a Kevin Fiege.  Someone who knows the ins and outs of that particular studio and what makes it unique and who is able to fiercely protect the studio from higher executives.  There are three studios that currently have such a setup, but others which are floundering because of a lack of a visionary in charge.
    • Further, the Pixar Braintrust is a great idea that should be implemented across most all studios.  It creates a structure where there will always be a baseline of quality in every Pixar film.  Some may soar higher than others, but the story itself will always work.
  • Finally, another main goal will be to flesh out ideas of particular films and franchises that each studio should be developing.
With that framework, the following studios will be discussed over the coming weeks.
This should give a little bit of a preview for some of the changes that I would implement and will serve as a continuing guidepost for the entries over the coming weeks.

As always, thank you for reading and continuing through this journey with me.

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