Disney CEO Bob Iger says the company is still “very cautious” about developing Star Wars feature films in the wake of Solowhile Marvel is also considering how many sequels the characters will get.
Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference, Iger was asked an open-ended question about the health of tentpole brands Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar and Disney. Iger, who returned to the corner office last November, built his reputation planning the acquisitions of these outside companies during his previous tenure as CEO.
“I think a lot of them — they’re all my babies in a way,” the manager mused.
Speaking at Marvel, he said, “There are 7,000 characters, there are many more stories to tell. What we need to look at at Marvel isn’t necessarily the amount of Marvel stories we tell, but how often we come back to the fountain on certain characters. Sequels usually work well for us. For example, do you need a third and a fourth, or is it time to move on to other characters?”
Iger didn’t get specific, but his comments came less than three weeks after the Marvel Cinematic Universe entry was released Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the third Ant-Man film. It has grossed more than $600 million worldwide but was met with a lukewarm response from critics, posting a 69% drop in the US over its second weekend, the sharpest of any MCU title to date.
“There’s nothing unusual about the Marvel brand in any way,” Iger pointed out. “I think we just have to look at what characters and stories we dig up. If you look at Marvel’s trajectory over the next five years, there’s going to be a lot that’s new. For example, we’re going to be returning to the Avengers franchise with a whole new line of Avengers.”
As for Star Wars, Iger said “disappointing” box office returns for 2018 Solo, one of two standalone films to be integrated into three “Saga” parts, “gave us a break” in terms of the feature pipeline. Executives noted that “perhaps the cadence was a little too aggressive,” he added. Disney “is still developing Star Wars movies,” Iger continued, but “we’re going to make sure it’s the right one when we make one.” So we are very careful there.”
Episodic series based on Star Wars mythology, such as The Mandalorian, Andor and several others have been “extremely successful,” the CEO noted.
Disney’s core brand, Iger said, remains “very strong, certainly the strongest brand in family entertainment” 100 years after its inception. The forthcoming live-action version of The Little Mermaid, he said, is a testament to the power of Disney. “I think when you see this it will remind you how strong the brand is,” he said.