As part of the announcement of Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox, Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger answered questions about the deal. While there is a long process and it would be unwise to give too many specifics, he did give some insight as to how this deal will impact the organization. Here are five specific things we learned from Iger:
National Geographic Content Will Be Part of the Disney Streaming Service
Bob Iger believes that National Geographic fits well with Disney’s efforts with nature and the environment (Disneynature). Their properties are expected to be a part of Disney’s direct-to-consumer service. While the two Nat Geo channels in the United States will exist for now, their off-network product is expected to be added to the Disney-branded service, bringing the sub-brands on the service to five (Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, National Geographic). One might also expect National Geographic to have some kind of presence at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Disney Wants to Get Back in the Low-Budget Movie Business
While the number of mainstream movies that 20th Century Fox will produce is up in the air, Iger did seem very passionate about getting back into the small-budget business with Fox Searchlight. As he said, “We got out of it in part because we weren’t doing it well. We like the movie business though, when done right, and we’re quite impressed with what they’ve done and since we’re not making movies in that space, that’s a blank that we’re filling in that we like. And if managed efficiently, and we believe we’ll be able to do that — take advantage of the system that we already have — we think it’s a good investment to make in intellectual property that could ultimately feed direct-to-consumer business thereafter.” Disney used to be in the “independent” business with Miramax, but following the departure of the Weinstein brothers, that unit struggled and ended up being sold. Now that smaller films can help flesh-out OTT services like Hulu while potentially adding some awards season prestige to Disney, Iger expects to use them as a major content creation machine.
Iger Confirmed that Marvel Studios Will Oversee X-Men and Fantastic Four
While expected, Bob Iger confirmed that oversight of the X-Men and Fantastic Four films will transition to Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige. This will also mean that they will be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and will probably result in some kind of reboot.
Disney Bought BAMTech Due to Challenges with Disney Life
The desire to purchase BAMTech was a result of technical issues with the Disney Life service in the United Kingdom, which was a trial balloon for the upcoming Disney OTT service. As Iger said, “We learned, rookie mistake at the time, that the app needed to be
adapted very, very carefully to basically multiple hardware devices and multiple operating
systems. We were great on Apple devices and the iOS platform, not so great on Android, and the app rating was substantially lower and that was a bad experience. We bought BAMTech because we knew that we were less experienced than we needed to be to
be in this business at a much more significant basis and they quickly gave us an education in what was needed.”
James Cameron Has Ideas for Future Collaborations
Bob Iger has already talked to James Cameron about other ways to work together after the success of Pandora – The World of AVATAR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. “He sees all sorts of other opportunities and the fact that we have a relationship already and he’s already been impressed with how Disney has handled one of his prized possessions, he is very excited about that, and there’s great potential there,” said Iger. While Cameron will be making many AVATAR sequels for Disney-owned Fox, it is unknown what else he might have in mind.