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Adjusting To A New Reality

Gettyimages | KEHAN CHEN

As the coronavirus is causing major cultural shifts all over the place, the film industry is having to seriously consider its future moving forward. With the closing of movie theaters -- possibly forever in AMC's case -- studios are working to ensure their future survival by getting creative.

Disney announced that their next major film releases for 2020, including Black Widow and Mulan, will be pushed back to later in the year and into 2021, but they decided to release the upcoming children's film Artemis Fowl straight onto Disney+ later in the summer.

What Will Disney Do?

Disney

In a new interview with Barron's, Disney executive chairman Bob Iger explained that while Fowl is going straight to Disney+, they don't want that to become the new normal for their tentpole films.

"In terms of movies going ahead after Artemis, there may be a few more that we end up putting directly onto Disney+, but for the most part a lot of the big tentpole Disney films, we’ll simply wait for slots. In some cases we’ve announced new ones already, but later on in the calendar."

There is also a persistent rumor that Disney will release the long delayed New Mutants straight onto Hulu, but for now the film has been removed from the schedule with no official release date.

Hitting Disney+ Early

Still, there has been examples of films hitting Disney+ earlier than expected, namely Frozen 2 and Pixar's Onward. Iger acknowledged these releases and why it made sense at the time with people stuck quarantining.

"In some cases we’ve moved things onto Disney+ faster than we would have. Frozen 2 was one of them, but Onward would be the biggest example. It was in theaters when this happened. We moved to a pay-per-view period for a couple of weeks where people could buy it and own it. And then we ended up putting it on Disney+."

Necessary Changes

Disney

In terms of when the Disney parks will reopen, Iger claims that Disney is looking for the best way to ensure guest and employee safety. They're currently considering temperature checks before entry.

"We’re studying very carefully what China has been trying to do in terms of their return to normalcy. You can’t get on a bus or a subway or a train or enter a high-rise building. … without having your temperature taken."

Iger claimed that while Disney has the capital to weather this storm -- "Now when I say prolonged, I don’t necessarily mean forever. No one’s got that" -- he said that the recent employee furloughs were "necessary, not just in terms of reducing costs, but also sending a signal. Others obviously will feel the impact as well as we look to preserve the long-term health of the company financially."

Still, Iger is doing his part, forgoing his salary during the pandemic to offset cost.

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