Disney CEO explains early plan for digital future

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By Dawn Chmielewski

(Reuters) – Walt Disney Co. on Sunday outlined a plan for how the conglomerate will use entertainment, theme parks and consumer products technology to improve storytelling over the next 100 years.

Speaking backstage at the company’s biannual D23 Expo fan convention with Reuters, Chief Executive Bob Chapek went to great lengths to avoid what he called the “M-word” or metaverse, despite having called the company in those days last year. pushed towards.

Chapek described Disney’s vision for the metaverse as “next-generation stories.” He plans to use data from theme park visits and consumer streaming habits to deliver personalized entertainment experiences, including from the company’s Marvel and Lucasfilm studios.

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“Disney is definitely a lifestyle,” he told Reuters in an interview at the convention in Anaheim, California, on Sunday. “The question is, how our next-gen stories leverage what we know about a guest who is unique to this Disney lifestyle, rather than deliver unique experiences.”

Entertainment and technology companies rushed to secure a foothold in the metaverse after Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta Platforms Inc, announced that the future of his company would be dedicated to creating a robust, three-dimensional, permanent environment where the digital avatars of users would work, hang out and pursue their hobbies.

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Well ahead of Meta’s announcement, Chapek, who oversaw the parks division before taking over the top position in 2020, spent years preparing how to extend the theme park experience to people who would never visit one of the company’s six theme parks worldwide. visits.

Disney began seriously laying the groundwork for exploring new forms of storytelling last year when it appointed veteran media and tech executive Mike White to oversee its newly created Next Generation Storytelling and Consumer Experiences unit.

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White is tasked with putting together the technology toolkit for Disney’s creative executives to use.

He has also brainstormed ideas for using augmented reality and other technologies to give new dimensions to storytelling. Chapek cited an early example: an eight-minute augmented reality movie that premiered this week on Disney+.

“This could be a really big catalyst for what’s going to come out there and, you know, five to 10 years,” Chapek said.

(Reporting by Dawn Chmielewski in Anaheim; editing by Kenneth Li and Stephen Coates)