The Walt Disney Company plans to spend $33 billion (about Rs. 2,45,930 crore) on content in the fiscal year 2022 — for Disney, that’s October 1, 2021 to September 30, 2022 — the American entertainment giant has revealed. That number comes from an annual report filed on Wednesday afternoon in the US to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); that’s the US equivalent to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). The $33-billion figure represents an approximate $8 billion (about Rs. 59,621 crore) increase over Disney’s content expenditure in fiscal year 2021.
“The increase is driven by higher spend to support our [direct-to-consumer] expansion and generally assumes no significant disruptions to production due to [the ongoing] COVID-19 [pandemic],” The Walt Disney Company wrote in its FY2022 annual report. Direct-to-consumer is the business term for streaming services — or over-the-top (OTT) platforms as they are referred to in India. That means the extra $8 billion is going towards the likes of Disney+, ESPN+, Hulu, and Disney+ Hotstar. Rather than say its movie business, or the hundreds of TV channels that it operates globally.
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Of course, that $33 billion is boosted by the value of sporting rights (such as Indian Premier League, and National Football League) that run into hundreds of millions of dollars annually — as part of long-term multi-year contracts. But it still shows that Disney is prioritising its streaming business as it seeks to compete with the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, and others. Netflix spent about $17 billion (about Rs. 1,26,691 crore) on content this year, Amazon forked over $11 billion (about Rs. 81,979 crore) in 2020, and HBO Max’s to-be parent Warner Bros. Discovery has said it will cash out $20 billion (about Rs. 1,49,052 crore) on content annually.
And what will this $33 billion bring us? In the same annual report, The Walt Disney Company stated that its Studios — that’s Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Pictures, Lucasfilm, Pixar, Searchlight Pictures, and Twentieth Century Studios — will deliver 50 titles (movies and series) for cinemas and streaming. Meanwhile, its General Entertainment division — that’s ABC and Disney TV studios, National Geographic, and FX Productions — will help produce 60 unscripted series, 30 comedy series, 25 drama series, 15 docu-series and/ or limited series, 10 animated series, and five made-for-TV movies.
Some of those titles are known to us. Marvel will bring us Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness with Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen in May 2022, Thor: Love and Thunder with Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman in July 2022, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in November 2022 on the big screen. The last of them is technically FY 2023 for Disney. On Disney+, we have the ongoing Hawkeye with Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld, plus Oscar Isaac-led Moon Knight, She-Hulk with Mark Ruffalo and Tatiana Maslany, Iman Vellani-led Ms. Marvel, and Secret Invasion with Samuel L. Jackson, Emilia Clarke, and Olivia Colman.
From Pixar, we have Turning Red in March 2022 about a Chinese-Canadian teenager, and Toy Story origin story Lightyear in June 2022. For Disney+, Walt Disney Pictures is making coming-of-age story Better Nate Than Ever, animated TV series follow-up Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, and sequel to 30-year-old originial Hocus Pocus 2 at the least. Lucasfilm will give us The Book of Boba Fett starting December 29, Diego Luna-led Andor, Ewan McGregor-led Obi-Wan Kenobi, and possibly The Mandalorian season 3 in 2022 as well.
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