Multiple Marvel Shows 'Diluted Focus' And Pixar Movies Going To Streaming Hurt The Brand, Says Bob Iger

BY RYAN SCOTT/JULY 13, 2023 11:13 AM EST

Disney CEO Bob Iger recently re-upped his contract with the studio through 2026. When he took over for Bob Chapek late last year, the plan was to have Iger stay for two years and find a successor. Unfortunately, Disney has too many messes to clean up, and they've yet to find a suitable replacement for Iger. One of the biggest issues is that two of Disney's biggest brands, Pixar and Marvel, have been struggling as of late, and that's something Iger recently addressed. In short? He blames it on Disney+.

Iger recently spoke at the Sun Valley Conference (via Variety), and first, more broadly, discussed some of the studio's theatrical disappointments, such as "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" and Pixar's "Elemental" (though the latter isn't as much of a disappointment as it seems). Here's what the executive had to say about the relationship between some of those films on the company's focus on Disney+.

Indeed, Disney+ shot out of the gate and entered the streaming wars with a bang, becoming one of Netflix's biggest competitors almost overnight. Disney used big brands like "Star Wars," Marvel, and Pixar to bring attention to the platform. But that, ultimately, came at a cost. Now, audiences know they can wait until something is on Disney+ to watch it. But the problem is a bit more complex than that.

Watering down valuable brands

Iger, speaking a bit further, addressed both Marvel and Pixar more specifically. The problems for each brand are a little nuanced and not precisely the same. Marvel Studios became an anchor for Disney+, producing several blockbuster-level TV shows for the service each year, to go along with several movies that were hitting theaters annually. That means audiences were being asked to watch a lot more stuff. More than that, it made each Marvel Cinematic Universe thing feel less special. As Iger put it:

When it comes to Pixar, it boils down to expectations. Three Pixar originals in the form of "Soul," "Luca," and "Turning Red" went directly to Disney+ at no additional cost to subscribers. This completely set a new expectation for the brand, which had been one of the most reliable hitmakers in the business before the pandemic. Iger said the following regarding the storied animation studio:

What happens now?

In fairness, when Iger is talking about "creative misses," that's probably not relegated only to Pixar because, quite frankly, the trio of movies that were sent to Disney+ were all widely acclaimed, with "Soul" even winning Best Animated Feature at the Oscars. In any event, these are key acknowledgments from the man at the head of Disney to be making. It suggests he's aware of these problems and is certainly putting plans in place to fix them.

There is already evidence that the people at the top of the food chain are trying to course correct. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige said earlier this year that MCU shows on Disney+ will be more spaced out "so they can each get a chance to shine." In other words, not asking too much of the viewers anymore. Later this year, "Loki" season 2 will arrive, but more intriguingly, the "Hawkeye" spin-off "Echo" will release all of its episodes at once in November. That will be a first for one of the Marvel shows, as they've released week-to-week up to this point.

As for Pixar, "Elemental" had a rough start at the box office but has held very well in the weeks since its initial release. While it's still going to lose money in the end, it looks like Disney is going to keep it in theaters and not rush it to Disney+ to try and right the ship a bit. That audience has to be earned back, and people need to know that these movies are still worth seeing in theaters. These flagship franchises cannot be sacrificed for short-term streaming gains anymore, and Iger knows it.