Amid spate of losses, Disney announces creation of new Star Wars films


Amid declines in its cable, broadcasting and studio Q4 earnings, Disney has announced that The Last Jedi helmer Rian Johnson will create a new trilogy of Star Wars films.

Ahead of the highly anticipated December 15 premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Disney has got into a deal with Johnson to develop a brand-new Star Wars trilogy that will be all together new from the episodic Skywalker saga.

Star Wars

Disney will also develop an original live-action Star Wars TV series for its direct-to-consumer SVOD service. The show is expected to launch by the end of 2019.

Other new programs heading to the SVOD will include original TV series adaptations of Pixar’s Monsters Inc. and Disney Channel’s High School Musical franchise. An original series from the Marvel universe is also in the works.

Disney’s SVOD is set to launch in 2019 and will have a lower monthly pricetag than Netflix, according to Disney CEO Bob Iger, partially because its content library will be much smaller.

The catalogue will include Disney’s Star Wars and Marvel movies, as previously announced, and any new Marvel shows, which won’t be produced exclusively for platforms like Netflix unlike Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and The Defenders.

Disney’s new film and SVOD announcements come as the company’s media networks business continues to struggle, declining 3 per cent in the fourth quarter revenue to US$5.5 billion.

On the film studio side, revenue dropped 21% to US$1.4 billion while segment operating income fell US$163 million to US$218 million. The decline was due to higher film costs, lower TV and SVOD distribution results and a lower revenue share from the company’s consumer products and interactive media segment.

Disney’s drop in theatrical distribution revenues was primarily driven by the under-performance of Cars 3 compared to Finding Dory in the last-year quarter.

Disney’s Parks and Resorts segment, however, continues to show growth with revenue increasing 6% to US$4.7 billion, and segment operating income rising 7% to US$746 million.

The higher results were due to international growth at Disneyland Paris and Shanghai Disney Resort, partially offset by domestic decreases, which were impacted by Hurricane Irma.

The earnings report comes amid Disney’s alleged negotiations with Fox to acquire some of its entertainment assets.