Disney’s betting big on Captain Marvel, not only in theaters, but as it prepares to launch its new streaming service.
Chairman Bob Iger says the upcoming film, starring Brie Larson, will be the first to skip streaming on Netflix after its theatrical run. It will instead debut on Disney+, the company’s upcoming proprietary streaming platform.
That’s going to cost it a big chunk in licensing. And, when added with other Disney films that will release this year, Disney estimates it will cut operating income by about $150 million.
Iger’s calling that an investment in Disney’s future, and betting big that Disney+ will find a substantial audience in a world where several major streaming services already exist.
“It’s almost the equivalent of deploying capital to build out our theme parks,” Iger said. “This is a bet on the future of this business.”
Disney has played Disney+ fairly close to the vest, but plans to show it off to investors at a meeting in April. The family-friendly service, which will include original movies and TV shows from Disney’s Marvel, Pixar, and other brands, is scheduled to debut later this year.
What’s unclear is whether it will allow other platforms to continue to show Disney properties. Some shows have built their followings thanks to binge viewing on Netflix, raising questions on whether the company is best served by putting them behind its own walled garden. Iger didn’t directly address this, but indicated that Disney was open to the risk of guarding its entire catalog of both films and television shows.
“In terms of making decisions about where content goes, since we are betting on this direct-to-consumer business long-term we obviously need to fuel it with intellectual property,” he said.