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Disney Has Bad News For Marvel, Star Wars Fans

With Bob Iger back at the Disney helm, the company's content strategy is already changing.

It's no secret that the last few years have seen a boom in the production of movies and television shows. Thanks to the presence of streaming platforms, audiences have more options than ever when it comes to choosing what to watch. As soon as vaccines made it possible for production studios to pick back up after the covid-19 lockdown, there was a surge in original content.

Leading the pack was Disney  (DIS) - Get Free Report, thanks in large part to its impressive library of valuable intellectual property. Under the leadership of Disney CEO Bob Iger and Head of Strategy Kevin Mayer, Disney acquired major studios Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel. In 2020, Iger left Disney in the hands of Bob Chapek, who had 26 years of experience with Disney working first in the Home Entertainment department and then as Chairman of Parks & Resorts.

Thanks to political entanglements with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and an unpleasant legal battle with actress Scarlett Johansson, the last few years of Chapek's leadership have left board members with something to be desired. In a surprising announcement over Thanksgiving weekend, Iger was reinstated as Disney CEO for a period of two years -- during which time, Disney will likely see some changes.

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Disney is Trimming Down its Content in 2023

Shortly after the news of Chapek's leaving and Iger's return, Disney released its annual report stating that 2023 will see a reduction in television shows and feature programming. According to the document, "In fiscal 2023, the Studios plan to produce approximately 40 titles, which include films and episodic television programs, for distribution theatrically and/or on our DTC platforms."

To put that in perspective, 2022's annual report set a goal for 50 titles. In the last two years, both Marvel and Star Wars have released several major film and series titles, each of which cost millions of dollars to make and market. Each new addition to the brands' libraries drew praise and criticism alike -- but now it looks like Disney is looking for more precise hits that favor quality over quantity.

For Disney, Less Could Be So Much More

Cutting down production by ten projects next year is a strategy that could bring a lot of benefits to the House of Mouse. There's no such thing as a cheap Disney production, and prioritizing projects that are more likely to succeed at the box office could be a better use of company resources.

Earlier this year, Marvel Studios specifically was plagued by reports of overworked and underpaid graphic designers -- another bit of press that reflected poorly on Chapek's overall leadership. With less pressure to complete more projects and an increased budget per project, Disney and Marvel could work to repair its tarnished reputation among creatives.

Regardless of what the surplus budget is used for, Disney isn't the only streaming service moving toward a more fiscally-conservative 2023. Warner Brothers Discovery  (WBD) - Get Free Report service HBO Max has been itching to slice $3 billion from its own budget, cutting programming and even shopping animated content to Amazon. Meanwhile Netflix  (NFLX) - Get Free Report, it seems, is going full speed ahead into the new year.