Disney eyes strong 2021 with streaming and reopening parks

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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US-based entertainment giant Walt Disney Co’s Disney+ streaming service has had an impressive start to its business with more than 100 million paying subscribers signing up on the platform around the world in its first 16 months.

Mr. Bob Chapek Chief Executive Officer of Walt Disney announced that the firm will also reopen its California theme parks to minimal attendance in late April. Disney was forced to close its theme parts a year ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

California officials have released guidelines allowing theme parks in the state to reopen as early as April 1. Mr. Chapek pointed out it will take a few weeks for the entertainment giant to rehire its 10,000 furloughed workers and train them in new virus protection procedures at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.

Besides, Disney might be able to restart some cruise ship operations in the fall as well. The coronavirus pandemic struck Disney hard, forcing theme parks and movie theatres to close, but the company surprised Wall Street with the growth of Disney+, which made its streaming debut in November 2019.

According to Mr. Chapek this year, the studio hopes to make a comeback in theatres soon. It is sticking to its plans to release Marvel’s “Black Widow” in theatres on May 7.

When asked if he might replace Kathleen Kennedy as president of Lucasfilm, the “Star Wars” studio, Chapek said he looked forward to her continuing to lead the unit “for many years to come.” Some fans had argued for a new leader after being dissatisfied with the plotlines of recent “Star Wars” films.

Disney also intends to resume dividend payments, which were halted during the pandemic, “at some point” in the future Mr. Chapek commented.

According to preliminary vote tallies declared at the meeting, Chapek and nine others were re-elected to the company’s board of directors. Executive Chairman Bob Iger, who has previously stated that he will leave Disney at the end of 2021, is among them.

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