Bob Iger is promising quality, not quantity, for Marvel's future slate of film and T.V.

In a quarterly call, Bob Iger confirmed Disney is both cutting down on Marvel content and more licensing to offset a bad 2023!
(L-R): Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool/Wade Wilson and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine/Logan in 20th Century Studios/Marvel Studios' DEADPOOL & WOLVERINE. Photo by Jay Maidment. © 2024 20th Century Studios / © and ™ 2024 MARVEL.
(L-R): Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool/Wade Wilson and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine/Logan in 20th Century Studios/Marvel Studios' DEADPOOL & WOLVERINE. Photo by Jay Maidment. © 2024 20th Century Studios / © and ™ 2024 MARVEL. /

Expect some changes for Disney's film slate as Bob Iger has promised it's going to be less volume and more quality, which is something the studio can use now.

It's no secret Disney's 2023 movie slate was, to put it mildly, a mess. There were some successes, like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 and Elemental becoming a sleeper success. But the studio was hit by major flops like Wish, Indiana Jones, and the Dial of Destiny, and even the MCU collapsed with The Marvels. 

That led to a turnover at the studio and Deadpool and Wolverine will be the only Marvel movie released in 2024 with many other films pushed back to 2025. A key issue being the huge budgets for these projects that makes it almost impossible to become hits. 

During the quarterly earnings call, Bob Iger has clarified that Disney's new direction is going to be something most will agree is overdue: Quality over quantity, meaning at most, only three Marvel movies per year. 

"I've been working hard with the studio to reduce output and focus more on quality, which is particularly true with Marvel. We're slowly going to decrease volume and go to probably about two TV series a year instead of what had become four, and reduce our film output from maybe four a year to two or at the maximum three. And we're working hard on what that path is, we've got a couple of good films in '25 and then we're heading to more Avengers, which we're extremely excited about. Overall I feel great about the slate, it's something that I've committed to spending more and more time on, the team is one that I have tremendous confidence in and the IP that we're mining, including all the sequels that we're doing is second to none."

This is a very smart move by Disney. Not only have their last efforts been creatively low (Wish especially) but the massive budgets are too hard to overcome. Disney is relying on some familiar IPs but cutting down on budgets will be good. 

Also, limiting Marvel's output is a smart idea. "Superhero fatigue" seems to have settled in, not just with Disney but Warner Bros' DCEU output. Releasing four or five films and TV shows per year was just too much for fans and so ensuring the movies work better rather than rushing to keep up a schedule is an overdue move. 

Disney moving to licensing

This wasn't the only big change Iger hinted at as Iger has softened the stance on licensing Disney movies and shows to platforms like Netflix. Obviously, Disney intended for Disney+ to be the only place to stream these, but the service has yet to turn a profit and is leaking subscribers to the point that they had to merge it with Hulu.

Iger indicated that Disney will be licensing shows and films to Netflix, which could lead to some unique deals. This comes as it's indicated Disney+ will finally reach profitability later this year. Per The Hollywood Reporter, the combined Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ lost only $18 million last quarter, on revenues of $6.2 billion. When ESPN+ is removed from that equation, the entertainment streaming business was profitable, with revenues of $5.6 billion and a net profit of $47 million.

Still, licensing shows can lead to more profits. Interestingly, Marvel's Runaways, which was removed from Hulu in 2023, recently popped up on CWTV. This hints that other series removed from it and Disney+ may show up at other streaming sites. 

"We're already doing some licensing with Netflix, and we're looking selectively at other possibilities. I don't want to declare that it's a direction we'll go more aggressively or not. But we certainly are taking a look at it and being expansive in our thinking about it. We had previously thought that exclusivity, meaning our own product and our own platforms, had huge value. It definitely does have some value. But we're also watching as some studios have licensed content to third party streamers, and that then creates more traction, more awareness. And the fact increases not only the value of the content from a financial perspective, but just in terms of traction. So we're looking at it with an open mind, but I don't think you should expect that we'll do a significant amount of it. "

Iger just survived a tough proxy fight to remain CEO and is still trying to rebuild trust in Disney and its stock prices. It does appear he's learning from past mistakes in both cutting down on over budgeted fare for smaller and better movies. Disney used to enjoy better success on lower-budget fare and while spectacle gets attention in the theaters, it doesn't matter if the budget is too high to overcome.

It's been a rough road for Disney at the box office and streaming but Iger's words show there's potential that can change and lead Disney back to the top of the Hollywood hierarchy.