Walt Disney Co on Thursday announced it will aggressively expand the Marvel and Star Wars franchises on its Disney+ subscription streaming service as it hit 86.8 million subscribers and nearly reached its most ambitious 2024 goal.
The entertainment conglomerate said it plans to release 10 new TV series in each of the two franchises over the next few years. Another 15 live-action Disney Animation and Pixar shows and 15 Disney Animation and Pixar feature films will be available on the streaming service.
Customers should expect something new every week, executives said in a presentation to investors.
Disney shares rose 4% in after-hours trading during the presentation.
Hollywood is closely following Disney’s plans a week after AT&T Inc’s Warner Bros upended the film business by saying it would debut all 17 of its 2021 movies on its HBO Max streaming service on the same day they hit theatres.
Disney+, the Netflix Inc competitor Disney launched a year ago, projected it would gain 60 million to 90 million subscribers worldwide by fiscal 2024. Since October, the service added 13 million customers and now has 86.8 million subscribers. Including Hulu and the ESPN+ sports streaming services, the company has about 137 million subscribers.
Netflix, which pioneered streaming in 2007, had 195 million paying subscribers at the end of October.
Disney also said it would launch its Star-branded general entertainment service in international markets in February 2021.
In October, Disney said it was restructuring the company to put more emphasis on streaming over traditional linear television to better meet customer demands. Next year it will offer a streaming platform overseas under the Star brand.
Cinema chains including AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc, Cineworld Group and Cinemark Holdings Inc are watching to see if Disney, the box-office leader last year, plans big changes to the slate of movies it has set for theatres.
Disney and other studios previously moved some films to streaming because the coronavirus pandemic has closed many cinemas.
Hollywood trade publications have reported that Disney has considered shifting the release of live-action movies including “Pinocchio,” which stars Tom Hanks as Geppetto, as well as “Peter Pan & Wendy,” to Disney+ from theatres.
Disney+ has been boosted by the popularity of “The Mandalorian” TV series, a “Star Wars” spinoff featuring the character popularly known as Baby Yoda.
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