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There may be fewer Marvel sequels in Disney’s future, CEO Bob Iger says

Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger says that while there’s nothing wrong with Marvel’s brand, the media giant may rely less on big-budget sequels as it looks to cut costs.

Speaking at a Morgan Stanley conference in San Francisco on Thursday, Iger said Disney

will be looking at reducing spending on content, and how many projects it produces.

Iger specifically wondered aloud if Marvel needs so many sequels for its superhero characters.

“Sequels typically worked well for us. Do you need a third and a fourth, for instance? Or is it time to turn to other characters?”

“What we have to look at at Marvel is not necessarily the volume of Marvel storytelling, but how many times we go back to the well on certain characters,” Iger said, according to a transcript. “Sequels typically worked well for us. Do you need a third and a fourth, for instance? Or is it time to turn to other characters?”

“There’s nothing in any way inherently off in terms of the Marvel brand,” he added. “I think we just have to look at what characters and stories we’re mining, and you look at the trajectory of Marvel over the next five years, you’ll see a lot of newness. We’re going to turn back to the Avengers franchise, but with a whole different set of Avengers.”

The comments came after the release of Marvel’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp in Quantumania,” the third “Ant-Man” movie, which grossed about $420 million globally in its first three weeks — a blockbuster for many studios, but a letdown for Marvel movies, a number of which have topped $1 billion in revenue.

Iger said Disney will also be more selective about future “Star Wars” movies, noting “disappointing” box-office returns for 2018’s “Solo.”

“We’re going to make sure when we make one, it’s the right one. So we’re being very careful there,” he said.

Iger boasted that Disney’s brand remains “very strong, certainly the most powerful brand in family entertainment.” 

On other subjects, Iger said Disney is leaving open the option of licensing its content to third-party platforms, though its core franchises — Marvel, “Star Wars” and Pixar — would likely remain exclusive to Disney+.

He also said Disney remains bullish on ESPN’s outlook, though he’s “open-minded about its future,” and said the fate of Hulu is still up in the air, with Disney mulling whether to buy out Comcast’s

minority stake or sell its majority stake. “We’re really studying the business very, very carefully,” he said. “But the environment is very, very tricky right now … we want to understand where it could go.”

Disney shares have gained nearly 11% year to date, but have fallen 29% over the past 12 months, compared to the S&P 500’s

2% gain in 2023 and 8% decline over the past year.

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