Disney Announces Frozen 2, Star Wars Spin-Off
Disney made a number of announcements at its annual shareholders meeting Thursday, including news of upcoming film releases and its plans for Maker Studios.
The meeting was held by Disney chairman and chief executive officer Bob Iger who proudly displayed his new Mickey Mouse-themed Apple Watch at the event, which will be available at retail soon.
The studio had its biggest year ever in 2014 with revenue up 8 percent to $48.8 billion worldwide, marking the fourth straight year of record results for the company.
Disney Consumer Products played a large part in that succes, with 11 seperate franchises bringing in more than $1 billion in global retail sales each last year. Also of note was the fact that Disney Interactive marked its first year of profitability, and ABC was the only U.S. network to grow last year, with series such as "Scandal" and "Once Upon a Time" driving success.
Among the company’s major film announcements made by Iger was confirmation of a follow-up to the most successful animated film of all time, Frozen. The first film's directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck are currently developing Frozen 2, although a release date has not yet been set.
In other animation news, Iger confirmed that The Good Dinosaur, which had been delayed from its original 2014 release, would hit theaters in November.
A release date for Star Wars: Episode VIII was also announced (May 26, 2017) as was plans for a standalone Star Wars spin-off film, Rogue One. (The 2017 release date of Episode VIII is the same as that off Warner Bros.' upcoming untitled LEGO movie.) In the meantime, Rogue One will fill the gap year between Episode VII And Episode VIII with a release on Dec. 16, 2016.
In Marvel news, Iger called attention to the studio's recent deal with Sony to bring Spider-Man to Marvel films in the future and highlighted the fact that 11 Marvel films are planned over the next four years.
Iger said that the expansion of existing parks is a priority for the Parks and Resorts division, under the leadership of the unit's new chairman, Bob Chapek, who formerly lead Disney Consumer Products. (No word yet on Chapek's replacement at DCP.)
Additionally, the new theme park Shanghai Disneyland, which represents the studio's largest ever investment outside the U.S., is on track to open in spring 2016. Iger also let slip that the Hollywood Studios theme park in Orlando, Fla., would be getting a new name in conjunction with its park overhaul, and highlighted plans for a themed Avatar area at Animal Kingdom that will open in 2017 and the first-ever Marvel theme park activation, the Iron Man Experience, which will open in Hong Kong Disneyland next year.
Looking to the future of entertainment, Iger said that he had "great enthusiasm" for Disney's multi-channel network, Maker Studios. While no specifics were revealed, Iger did say that the company has plans to leverage the Maker platforms to distribute content from all of its divisions.
"We aim to not only let Maker be in the business of producing short-form videos, but they're a great place for us to distribute short-form videos that are made under the various brand umbrellas including ESPN, ABC News, etc," he said. "We were very enthusiastic when we bought (Maker) and everything we've seen so far has only contributed to even greater enthusiasm about it. My grandchildren live in a world where short-form video is extraordinarily popular and a completely different way of enjoying storytelling, and we're glad as a company to be a part of that wave."