Disney Digest 7/10/24 (Bears, Not Expos, The Death of DCOMs, and More)

I hope everyone had a nice Independence Day weekend. Disney is roaring back to life with eyes looking towards San Diego Comic Con and the D23 event. Not to mention, many members of the Disney executive team are at the summer camp for millionaires in Sun Valley Idaho. Hopefully Bob Iger learned his lesson and won’t tease major restructurings in a CNBC interview this year.

Kiss the Bears

The Country Bears Musical Jamboree had its first previews today and the response has been beary good. (I’m sorry, thanks for bearing with me through my obligatory bear pun.) I was very interested in seeing how Disney executed this transformation — not because this is the biggest project they have, but because it is relatively small.

It is no secret that Walt Disney Imagineering has gone through tons of changes and reversals lately. Did they still have the team to execute an experience that exceeded expectations. After a decidedly mixed reaction to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, I hope that the Bears can be the first in a string of hits that show that Imagineering not only has the ability to dream big plans, but also undertake the harder challenge of getting the details right. If they do, Disney Experiences may have a bright future once they get around to spending that $60 billion dollars they have earmarked.

Standing by for D23

We are less than 30 days away to the poorly named D23: Ultimate Disney Fan Event. While we have known the big three shows at the Honda Center for a while, we have yet to hear any more details about the panels or show floor since the event was announced. For the record, we started getting information about 7 weeks prior to the 2022 D23 Expo.

I am sure there is a lot going on behind the scenes, but I also know many people are anxious to plan what they want to see and do. In fact, the “Random Selection Process” for panel reservations is supposed to launch on Monday, so one must presume they will have more to share soon. But unlike the slow rollout of previous years, it seems like we may have a bit of a deluge very soon.

One Day TCA

Alex is down in Pasadena for the Television Critics Association press tour. These events typically (pandemic and strike willing) happen twice a year — once in the winter and once in the summer. At these gatherings, various networks and streaming platforms have panels and events to showcase their content. More recently, instead of going network by network, the various corporate entities take on blocks of time.

In the winter, Disney held three days of panels across their brands. This summer, they are down to one day. In addition, the network executives, who typically give a press conference, skipped as well. FX’s John Landgraf was famous for giving his perspective on the industry including his assessment of the rise and fall of “Peak TV.” This reduction, which is also being mirrored by other content providers, is a realization that there will be less shows being made in the future. This is going to have an impact on the overall industry, and it will be fascinating to watch it shake out.


Speaking of TCA, as part of the festivities, Disney Branded Television held the premiere of Descendants: Rise of Red on the lot. Notably, this movie will be the first in the franchise to not be a Disney Channel Original Movie. That moniker has not been used in two years. As these films are often debuting or quickly re-airing on Disney+, they are now calling them Disney Original Movies.

While I understand that Disney Channel isn’t the force it once was due to the rapidly declining state of linear television amongst tweens and teens, the new branding is a bit confusing. Aren’t all Disney movies Disney original movies? The nice thing about the DCOM branding was that you knew you were getting a smaller budget family film. That didn’t mean they weren't good, but the scope was typically smaller. I think it is a bit of a stretch to expect people to differentiate from a Disney live-action movie like The Lady and the Sea or Cruella and a Disney Original Movie like Rise of Red or The Naughty Nine. I am personally hoping that they are able to still make films for the former Disney Channel demo, without watering down the branding for theatrical live-action titles.

To Disney’s credit, they did announce a donation to the Cameron Boyce Foundation as part of the premiere. While Disney lost this VK too soon, I hope his legacy is a brighter future for those with epilepsy. You can catch the film, which also includes a touching tribute to Boyce, when it debuts on Disney+ this Friday.

Quick Hits

  • Did you know Disney has ownership in a comics company other than Marvel? Well… they just sold it.
  • For those wondering why Disney is leaning into sequels, Inside Out 2 just became the highest grossing Pixar film of all-time.
  • Kudos to Kevin Feige for standing up for Disney-fying when he said in an interview, “we were talking about everybody always being afraid of Disney-fying things. This is the biggest entertainment company in the world for 100 years. You should be so lucky to Disney-fy everything!”

6 Things to Watch for Tomorrow

  • If you need to see all-star athletes win ever more accolades, ABC will be broadcasting the ESPYS from Los Angeles
  • Across the street, at the El Capitan, Disney will be hosting a fan screening of The Lion King to celebrate its 30th anniversary.
  • Kendra Scott will be dropping a new collection at Disney Store.
  • The Ladies Semi Final of Wimbledon will be airing in the morning on ESPN.
  • Hulu is dropping the whole docuseries, Mastermind: To Think Like a Killer
  • We will start getting the San Diego Comic Con schedule.

I have a feeling tomorrow, much like today, is going to be a busy one, so I will see you back here tomorrow night.