Two things stand out from the story by Brooks Barnes about Disney’s upcoming roadmap. First:
Even so, Disney must pull off several high-wire acts over the coming year. For the first time in nine years, for instance, the company’s highly successful Pixar division will not supply an annual movie; “The Good Dinosaur” was pushed back because of production problems. That puts more box-office pressure on expensive live-action films like “Maleficent,” which is scheduled for release in the spring. Walt Disney World in the coming months is expected to finally introduce its long-planned My Magic Plus technology, a complex advance reservation and crowd management system that cost roughly $1 billion to install; Wall Street is eager for results. Construction spending at Shanghai Disneyland will speed up as the company hurtles toward an opening in late 2015.
The adoption of the My Magic Plus technology should be fascinating to watch. But more importantly, no Pixar movie in 2014 for the first time in nine years?!
The Netflix deal represents an effort by Disney to replicate Marvel’s successful “Avengers” movie strategy on smaller screens. The company first made stand-alone films for characters like Iron Man and Captain America and then combined the characters into one megamovie. The second Avengers film, “Age of Ultron,” is expected to arrive in theaters in summer 2015. The next “Star Wars” movie will arrive in theaters in December 2015, Disney announced on Thursday. A summer date had been anticipated. The slightly later release window will move “Star Wars” into Disney’s 2016 fiscal year, leading to a modest delay in Disney’s efforts to show substantial returns from its Lucasfilm acquisition.
In other words, 2015 is going to bring a new Pixar film after a two-year hiatus, the next Avengers film, and the new Star Wars film. It’s going to be a massive year for the film division.