Return of the JJ and Bob Iger’s Job Security

This week Lucasfilm has called on JJ Abrams to direct Star Wars Episode 9, but is he really what the franchise needs? Pixar releases a new trailer for Coco and gets us all excited for Thanksgiving. We also talk about the state of the Disney company and whether new leadership is needed. Finally, Disney plans to release 25 films in the next 27 months, but what’s their end game? We have a theory. That and much much more. For the week of September 18, this is Episode 149 of The Disney Movie Review.

Return of The JJ

A little bit ago in a place not so distant, J.J. Abrams directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens and brought joy to millions of fans. Now Lucasfilm has asked him to return to helm the untitled Star Wars Episode IX film. Abrams replaces Colin Trevorrow. Many Star Wars fans have been praising Abrams’ return as if he were restoring peace and justice to the galaxy. I’m not so convinced.

JJ is a great choice for the film, but he probably is not the best choice for the franchise. When it launched, Star Wars revolutionized film. Now, it is the standard. It is a gold standard, to be sure, but still standard. In 1977, George Lucas did things no one had seen. He took risks. Disney is scared to even move Star Wars from its magical December release month, let alone let directors experiment with their coveted franchise.

On the one hand, I don’t blame Disney for their safe choices. You don’t hand the keys to your 2018 BMW to the first director that walks through the door. Still, Star Wars can’t just focus on North American audiences anymore. The box office is global now and Kung Fu Panda 3 earned $30 million more than The Force Awakens in China.

Should Bob Iger Be Fired?

The short answer is no. But, like most things, the long answer is far more complicated and interesting. Disney CEO Bob Iger helped the company soar to heights Walt Disney probably didn’t even imagine. Disney was a force in Children’s entertainment before he took over. Now, they are a media giant.

But in the past few years, Disney has lost its mojo. The stock peaked in 2015 and has been on a downward trend ever wsince. ESPN lost more than 3 million subscribers in less than one year. The domestic theme parks have struggled with attendance for the first time in more than a decade. And while the movies are performing well, movie theaters are dealing with flat attendance.

It may sound like these are all forces beyond Iger’s control, but as Hopper points out, “First rule of leadership: Everything is your fault.” If he were at Netflix, he probably would have been shown the door in 2016. Thankfully, Disney is not Netflix, but I also think Bob Iger needs someone who can help him shine. He is a fantastic leader, but managing cord cutting’s effect on his media empire has not been a strength of his.

I believe that every worker should be allowed to shine in an area that is their strength. Right now, it appears Bob is operating outside of his.

25 Disney Films in 27 Months

This story comes from Ed’s site Disney Movie Database, where he pointed out that Disney is releasing 25 movies over the next 27 months. To put that in perspective, Disney only plans to release 7 films this entire year.

So what is the end goal? In calendar years, 27 months will take us to the end of 2019. That also happens to be the year Disney is launching its own streaming service. It seems feasible – and maybe even likely – that Disney will use this movie blitz to help bolster the content on its new streaming platform. What do you think?

P.S. Ed also had the scoop on the new Songs from Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. Check it out here!

Coco Trailer

Trip Report