Following last month’s rumblings that Disney might be gearing up for a massive round of layoffs, CEO Bob Iger confirmed during this week’s earning call that the company plans to let go of 7,000 employees in an effort to deal with our current “challenging economic environment.” Firing off swaths of workers is one way to cut costs in the short term, but as Iger looks to the future, he also sees doubling down on the studio’s massive movie franchises with sequels as its key to continued growth.
Iger insisted on Wednesday that this newest chapter of Disney’s story will be defined by structural transformation meant to “improve margins and returns and better [position’] us to weather future disruption.” But the newly returned CEO also made clear that an increased focus on “even more on [Disney’s] core brands and franchises, which have consistently delivered higher returns” is a big part of his vision for the studio.
“Since my return, I have drilled down into every facet of the streaming business to determine how to achieve both profitability and growth,” Iger said. “We will aggressively curate our general entertainment content. We will reassess all markets we have launched in and also determine the right balance between global and local content.”
In addition to taking those steps, Iger announced that Disney is moving forward with plans to produce new Toy Story, Frozen, and Zootopia sequels, and while he didn’t have any specific details about the new projects, he described them collectively as “a great example of how we’re leaning into our unrivaled brands and franchises.”
Setting Lightyear and its underperformance at the box office aside, Disney’s consistent financial success with the Toy Story and Frozen franchises and the fact that Zootopia has raked in over $1 billion globally makes it easy to grasp Iger’s logic here. The order for more sequels also gels with the way that Disney’s recent attempts at launching newer IPs like Strange World failed to really catch on with the public. All of this raises the question, however, if more sequels are really what audiences want and if Disney can manage to make new installments in these franchises that actually get people interested in watching them.