Earlier this week, The Walt Disney Company reported first-quarter sales, earnings and streaming-subscriber growth that stood out among competitiors and even shocked many Disney fans as well as analysts’ who were not expecting the company to report such high numbers.
Bob Chapek has been CEO of the world’s largest entertainment company for two years this month. His tenure has been off to a rocky start what with a little thing called COVID-19 but his outlook on the company and his numbers-based, business-focused ways have not settled well among Disney loyalists.
Diehard Disney fans who put former Disney CEO Bob Iger on something of a golden throne are less than thrilled with the new CEO and social media was abuzz last week as shareholders excitement grew as they thought they may even be able to overthrow the leader of one of the largest corporations in the world. But, with the release of this stellar Q1 report, it’s pretty safe to say, Chapek is here to stay folks.
Analysts’ estimate Disney’s earnings increased to $1.06 a share, well ahead of the 57-cent average. Sales in the period ended January 1 increased to $21.8 billion.
Just a year ago, Disney parks division recorded signifcant losses, as were expected as the country and world were still deep in throws of the pandemic. Now, as we leave Q1 of 2022 behind us, Disney’s parks division reported $2.45 billion in operating income. Revenue from the resorts unit doubled from this time last year and the introduction of Genie+, Disney’s new pay-to-play “line jumping” system, that also helped increase park revenue.
Interestingly, for as much as Disney fans complain about the new Genie+ system, a third of all park guests are using the service.
Looking forward to Q2, Chapek expects numbers to continue to rise as international borders open and visitors from other counties return to American theme parks.
Disney+ subscriptions are now coming up on a total of 130 million and in Q1 reached 11.8 million. That number exceeded projections released by Wall Street prior to the earnings release by over 2 millon.
“Encanto” was the most-watched film on streaming in the two weeks after its release on Disney+, according to Nielsen. Both the soundtrack album and the song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” are No. 1 on the Billboard charts. The past quarter also saw streaming releases for “The Beatles: Get Back” and a new series based on the Star Wars character Boba Fett.
Chapek said “Encanto” and other films that have been successful with immedate release on Disney’s exclusive streaming service proves that Disney can see theatrical success without release to the big screen though they look forward to a return to pre-pandemic box office releases.
“The remainder of this fiscal year will feature compelling Disney+ originals from across our brands and franchises, beginning with Pixar’s Turning Red and the Marvel series, Moon Knight,” said Chapek in a statement. These new entertainment releases will debut on March 11 and March 30, 2022, respectively.
During the call, Chapek brought up several shorts and films that are coming down the pipeline for Disney including Ms. Marvel, shorts based on Pixar’s Big Hero Six and Cars, a live-action reimagining of Pinocchio that will star Tom Hanks, and Hocus Pocus 2.
Upcoming openings that Disney Parks fans can look forward to include the launch of an all-new immersive Star Wars experience with Star Wars: Galactic Starcuiser, which opens March 1, 2022, at Walt Disney World. Also at the Orlando resort, guests will be able to ride the all-new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction later this summer. At Disneyland Paris, Avengers Campus will open this summer as part of the resort’s 30th anniversary. Plus more!
“Our success at Disney+ this quarter was not the result of any one item but, instead, a combination of organic growth and powerful new content, our strategic decision to include the Disney bundle with all Hulu Live subscriptions, and new market launches,” Chapek said on Wednesday’s earnings call. “The remainder of this fiscal year will feature compelling Disney+ originals from across our brands and franchises.”