Disney CEO blames “too many” sequels for Marvel’s downturn

(L-R): Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers, and Teyonah Parris as Captain Monica Rambeau in Marvel Studios' THE MARVELS. Photo by Laura Radford. © 2023 MARVEL.
(L-R): Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers, and Teyonah Parris as Captain Monica Rambeau in Marvel Studios' THE MARVELS. Photo by Laura Radford. © 2023 MARVEL. /

Secret Invasion was a bust on Disney+. The Marvels opened a few weeks ago to dismal box office numbers, at least for a Marvel movie. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is in trouble, and Disney CEO Bob Iger thinks he knows what went wrong.

“Quality needs attention to deliver quality, it doesn’t happen by accident,” Iger said during The New York Times annual DealBook summit the other day. “And quantity, in our case, diluted quality — and Marvel has suffered greatly from that.” Iger said that Marvel Studios had “made too many” sequels that were not well received by audiences or critics. “There has to be a good reason to make them.”

"Often, the story is not as strong as the original story, that can be a problem, but it just has to have a reason, you have to have a reason to make it beyond commerce. There has to be an artistic reason to make it, and we’ve made too many."

Iger discussed other reasons for Marvel’s flagging fortunes. For instance, he mentioned that The Marvels was shot during the COVID pandemic and that “there wasn’t as much supervision on the set, so to speak, where we have executives there, really looking over what’s being done day after day after day.” That makes sense, because if what you care about is finding good artistic reasons to make movies, you need as many executives as possible second-guessing the artists on set.

He also pointed a finger at the streaming model. “I think we’ve conditioned the audience to expect that these films will be on streaming platforms relatively quickly and that the experience of accessing them and watching them in the home is better than it ever was,” Iger said. “One, easier to access in terms of the technology and two, just the visuals — better sets in your living room than before — and a bargain when you think about it.” Of course, streaming wouldn’t explain why The Marvels bombed at the box office but Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3, which came out earlier this year, was a smashing success that took in over $800 million in theaters.

The bottom line is that the MCU doesn’t have the cache it once did, and based on this talk it’s anyone’s guess how exactly Iger and his colleagues will go about trying to regain their footing. “I would say right now my number one priority is to help the studio turn around creatively,” he said.

Elon Musk calls out Bob Iger as he tells fleeing Twitter advertisers to “go f**k yourselves”

Iger’s appearance at the annual DealBook summit was interesting, but it’s not what got the most attention: that would be Twitter CEO Elon Musk discussing how numerous advertisers — including Disney — are fleeing the platform after the increasing prominence of seemingly antisemitic  rhetoric, including on Musk’s own timeline. Rather than vow to clean up the place, Musk declared to advertisers, “Go f**k yourselves!” He doubled down on that thought for a while, bewildering interviewer Andrew Ross Sorkin and eliciting stony silence or nervous laughter from the crowd. It’s weird viewing.

What’s even more uncomfortable is that Musk made this comments in front of Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino, whose job it is to sell advertising on Twitter and who may not appreciate her boss further alienating potential partners — and Bob Iger himself. Musk even acknowledged Iger after one of his f-bombs. “Hey Bob, if you’re in the audience.”

Musk also says, more or less, that he expects the company to go under without advertising…but also keeps telling advertisers to go f**k themselves. We’re basically watching a man and a company implode in real time. Anthropologists must be fascinated.

CEO David Zaslav says it took “courage” to cancel Batgirl movie

As long as we’re talking about flailing CEOs, let’s check in on David Zaslav, the head of Warner Bros. Discovery. During his turn on stage, he talked about how the studio opted not to release the basically-finished Batgirl movie, which got a ton of blowback when people learned about it late last year.

“We decided that we had to have courage,” Zaslav said, putting an interesting spin on the decision to dump an already-completed movie so the studio could collect a tax write-off. “We’ve spent the $100 million dollars and if we don’t release it, it’s gone. We don’t have any real benefit from it. The question is, should we take certain of these movies and open them in the theater and spend another $30 or $40 million to promote them? And [the] Warner Bros. team and HBO made a number of decisions. They were hard. But when I look at the health of our company today, we needed to make those decisions. And it took real courage.”

More recently, Zaslav made another courageous decision when he opted not to release the already-finished movie Coyote vs. Acme, but then he courageously reversed course after public blowback and decided to shop the movie around to other distributors. A hero, ladies and gentlemen!

Next. First footage from House of the Dragon season 2 to be shown this weekend at CCXP!. dark

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h/t CNN Business